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									                                     Indus River
                           Kristi Shaw- Discussion Leader

                                   “India and Pakistan can go on shouting on Kashmir
                                   for all time to come, but an early settlement on the
                                   Indus waters is essential for maintenance of peace
                                   in the sub-continent” –Anonymous Indian official

                                   “the rivers pay no attention to partitions; the Indus
                                   just keeps rolling along through Kashmir and India
                                   and Pakistan” –David Lilienthal
A vast canal irrigation system was built within the Indus Basin under British rule
in the mid 1800’s to develop agricultural activities in the region. However when
the independent states of India and Pakistan were created in 1947, this canal
system became a major source of contention within the region. As a result,
several hydroelectric generation and water storage and transport projects
intended to serve a unified purpose were split (such as Bari Doab and Sutlej
Valley Project) with headwater projects belonging to India and canals running to
Pakistan. This caused discord in the region with an imminent threat of war in
Kashmir, which was later resolved by the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960.

Physical Characteristics
The Indus River, originating at 17,000 feet above sea level in Tibet, is 1800 miles
long and traverses Tibet past the Himalayas in Jammu and Kashmir through
Pakistan before emptying into the Arabian Sea. The drainage area, which
extends into India, is 450,000 square miles and contributes to an average annual
inflow of 175 million acre feet. The flow of the Indus fluctuates seasonally, with
melting of Himalayan glaciers accounting for almost 90% of the water in the
Upper Indus River Basin coming from remote glaciers in the Himalayas (Rizvi).
Although most of the Indus Basin lies in a zone of deficient rainfall (<10 inches
annually), abundant flow is present during the monsoon season (July-
September), which accounts for 51% of the annual flow.
Nearly 10% of the rainfall is lost by evaporation and nearly 41 million acre feet is
lost by seepage from unlined canals, which results in waterlogging rendering the
land useless for agriculture.

Inter-Dominion Accord of 1948
The Inter-Dominion Accord of 1948 was a temporary agreement that required
India to release sufficient waters to Pakistani regions in return for annual
payments from the Pakistani government to India.
Standstill Agreement of 1947
As a result of the boundary delineation between Pakistan and India, Punjab was
separated into East and West regions. A Punjab Partition Committee was
established to resolve disputes regarding division of assets between the divided
provinces. Both East and West Punjab agreed that “the position existent at the
time of partition will not be disturbed and waters shall be divided equally.”
However, in 1948, East Punjab stopped the flow of water to West Punjab stating
absolute sovereignty. Flows were resumed when Pakistan supplied payment to
India for administrative costs.
Indus Waters Treaty
The Indus Waters Treaty is regarded as one of the few successful settlements of
a transboundary water basin conflict. Although there was significant dialogue
regarding historical right usage of water versus inappropriateness of using
historical use to set future allocation, a compromise was reached by Pakistan
and India in 1960. As a result, India was granted the three eastern tributaries
(Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej) upon payment to Pakistan the “cost of replacement
works” (62 million pounds) and Pakistan assumed the flow of the three western
rivers (Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab). The World Bank and other international
agencies provided $870 million to Pakistan and $200 million to India for to defray
infrastructure costs.
Other provisions of the treaty enabled construction of two additional dams in
Pakistan (Mangla and Tarbela) and created new link canals and barrages to
develop and sustain agricultural activities in Pakistan, such as the canals that
provide water to western Rajasthan and Kalabagh desert.
The Indus Waters Treaty was established to enable exploitation of the basin’s
economic potential for optimal benefit of India and Pakistan. By constructing new
dams and irrigation canals, the agricultural production in the Indus basin has
increased by 33%.
The Permanent Indus Commission was established by the treaty to exchange
data of flow discharges and generally monitors implementation of the treaty.
The lessons learned from the Indus River negotiations and agreements can be
summarized as follows: riparian conflicts must recognize fresh-water diplomacy
as a symbol for international relations, long-term economic optimization while
maintaining integral unity of the basin should be revered, political climate is
crucial in determining solutions, rational compromises should be made, decision
makers must be brought into the process, there are advantages to negotiating on
neutral ground, and although third party mediation was powerful, bilaterially
negotiated solutions should not be ruled out.
Questions for Discussion

1)    Although the border between Pakistan and India was incompatible with
      the previously operating irrigation canal system in the region, why was the
      boundary between Pakistan and India delineated the way it was?

2)    In this settlement, the World Bank and other neutral party arbitrators were
      very instrumental in development of the Indus Water Treaty. Why do you
      suppose that this was more effective rather than negotiations initiated by
      the countries within the Indus Basin?

3)    Eugene Black, former president of the World Bank, asserted that the
      “Indus dispute could most realistically be solved if the functional aspects of
      disagreement were negotiated apart from political considerations.” How
      can this be achieved?

Required Readings:
Encyclopedia Britannica, Indus River History
Mehta, Jagat S., Opinion (India)-The Indus Water Treaty: A Case Study in the
Resolution of an International River Basin Conflict, Natural Resources Forum,
Newbill, Michael, Indus Waters Treaty-A History
Supplementary Readings:
Compton's Encyclopedia On-Line, Indus River
Hashmi, Faraz., Indus River System Authority to Iron Out Differences
(, January 2001
Hooker, Richard., Harappa and the Indus River
(, 1996
Indus Waters Treaty of 1960 (
Musalman, A.A., Opinion (Pakistan) Genesis of a Crisis
(, May
Rizvi, Muddassir., Forecasting Water Flows in Pakistan's Indus River
(, May 2001
Snelgrove, A.K., Geohydrology of the Indus River West Pakistan, Sind University
Press, pp. 24-26, 1967

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