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The Indus Waters Policy Shift - India Has Decided Not to Share of River Waters to Flow Into Pakistan

By Admin | 27th Feb 2019


As a punitive measure following the terror attacks, India has decided not to allow its share of river waters to flow into Pakistan. However, this is not a new policy direction as it is in line with the earlier decision of the government post Uri attack in 2016. In 2016, there was a terrorist attack in Uri, Jammu and Kashmir.


As a punishing measure, several stalled projects were revived by India in order to ensure it utilizes its full claim under the Indus Waters Treaty. A high-level task force was set up to ensure that India makes full use of the waters it is entitled to under the Treaty. The committee recommended the revival of several stalled projects.


These projects were put on fast-track mode, declared national projects, and money was sanctioned to resume works. More than 30 projects are under various stages of implementation on the Western rivers and another 8 are in planning stage.


Some of the important projects that were revived includes:

  1. Bursar hydroelectric project: On Marusudar river (tributary of the Chenab), in Jammu and Kashmir. It will be India’s first project on the Western rivers to have storage infrastructure.
  2. Shahpur-Kandi project: On river Ravi, Punjab
  3. Sawalkot project: On river Chenab, Jammu and Kashmir
  4. Ujh Project: On river Ujh (tributary of Ravi), Jammu and Kashmir

Indus Waters Treaty was signed in 1960, between India and Pakistan and brokered by the World Bank. The treaty fixed and delimited the rights and obligations of both countries concerning the use of the waters of the Indus River system. The Treaty deals with sharing of water of six rivers i.e. Indus, Chenab, Jhelum, Beas, Ravi and Sutlej between India and Pakistan.


The treaty gave India “unrestricted use” of the eastern rivers, the Sutlej, Ravi and Beas. While, Pakistan had unrestricted use of the western rivers, the Chenab, Jhelum and Indus. On the main river Indus too, India was given the right to exploit without disturbing the flow or quantum.

The treaty also granted India the use of the western rivers for domestic, agricultural and non-consumptive uses including power production, but it must do so in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty.


As per the treaty, the water commissioners of Pakistan and India are required to meet twice a year and arrange technical visits to project sites and critical river head works. Both the sides share details of the water flow and the quantum of water being used under the treaty.

The treaty sets out a mechanism for cooperation and information exchange between the two countries regarding their use.

Indus basin has more than 95% of Pakistan’s irrigation infrastructure. It has now become the world’s largest contiguous irrigation system, comprising over 60,000 km of canals.


Three of Pakistan’s biggest dams (including world’s largest dam- Mangla dam) is built on the Jhelum river, producing a substantial proportion of Pakistan’s electricity. Projects to exploit unused river water of eastern rivers: Water of eastern rivers will be diverted to Yamuna through the following three projects: Ujh Dam in Jammu and Kashmir. Shahapur Kandi Project on the Ravi Second Ravi-Beas link.


Pakistan’s objections over Indian Projects: Even before India’s shift in policy, Pakistan had often blamed India for violating the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty.


Examples include

Ratle hydroelectric project on the Chenab. Pakal Dul dam on Marusadar River (a tributary of the Chenab River) Sawalkot project on the Chenab. Kishenganga project on the Jhelum.

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