Indus Water Treaty 1960 UPSC Notes PDF

By Aarna Tiwari|Updated : June 7th, 2022

The Indus Water Treaty is a water distribution Treaty or Agreement between India and Pakistan, signed in 1960. The Indus Water Treaty was signed between the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the then Pakistani President Ayub Khan. The World Bank brokered the Indus Water Treaty meeting between the two countries. On the recommendations of the UN (Permanent Indus Commission), the World Bank came up with the Indus Water Treaty in 1954, and the Treaty was signed on September 19, 1960.

Cover the Indus Water Treaty UPSC for the full information about this important topic for the upcoming UPSC IAS Exam.

Table of Content

Indus Water Treaty (IWT) UPSC

The Indus Water Treaty UPSC is an important geopolitical issue, which remains in news. It is covered under the Current Affairs in UPSC Prelims, as well as in GS Paper 2 of the UPSC Mains. The UPSC Exam is unpredictable and can ask anything that is under the Sun, or anything the Commission thinks a suitable UPSC candidate must know. To prepare for the Indus Water Treaty 1960, a candidate must refer to the NCERT Books for UPSC, along with the UPSC Books on Geography. The Indus Treaty UPSC can also be covered through the Geography Books for UPSC to get detailed information about the topic.

Indus Water Treaty Rivers

The Indus River System basin consists of six rivers, namely Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej. These rivers originate from Tibet and flow through the Himalayan ranges to enter Pakistan, ending in the south of Karachi. The basin is mainly shared by India and Pakistan with a small share for China and Afghanistan. The Indus Water Treaty allocates the Western Rivers (Indus, Jhelum, Chenab) to Pakistan and the Eastern Rivers (Ravi, Beas, Sutlej) to India.

The water of the three eastern rivers- Ravi, Sutlej, and Beas were allocated to India for exclusive use. All the waters of the Eastern Rivers shall be available for the unrestricted use of India until the arising of any unwanted situation.

While, the waters of Western rivers - Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab were allocated to Pakistan except for specified domestic, non-consumptive, and agricultural use permitted to India as provided in the Treaty. 

Indus Water Treaty

Indus Water Treaty 1960

After the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan into two nations, the Indus River system was cut into two; delineating geographical boundaries for India and Pakistan. As humans, water is essential for living. Both the nations were dependent on water from the Indus River basin to keep their irrigation infrastructure functional. 

  • In 1948, India blocked water to Pakistan for some time but later restored it after the ceasefire. According to the Inter-dominion Accord of May, 1948, India would supply water to Pakistan in exchange for an annual payment made by the latter. The Accord was signed when India and Pakistan met for a joint agreement on the water sharing issue. Though, the Inter-dominion Accord of May, 1948 was soon disintegrated as both the countries could not agree upon its common interpretations.
  • In the backdrop of the water-sharing dispute between Pakistan and India, both the countries applied for funding for their respective irrigation projects on the Indus and its tributaries from the World Bank. The World Bank then offered to mediate the Indus Water Conflict between the two countries, on recommendations of the UN.
  • After nearly a decade of negotiation, proposals, and fact-findings by the World Bank and required amendments, an agreement was signed between the two countries, known as the Indus Water Treaty (IWT). The Indus Water Treaty was signed by the former Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, and then President of Pakistan, Ayub Khan.

Indus Water Treaty Main Points

The Indus Water Treaty 1960 prescribed how water from the six rivers of the Indus River System would be shared between India and Pakistan.

  • The allocation of the eastern and the western rivers was made very clear. The Indus Water Treaty made it clear that 80% of the share of water was for Pakistan while leaving 20% of the water will be used by India.
  • The water of the three eastern rivers- Ravi, Sutlej, and Beas were allocated to India for exclusive use. All the waters of the Eastern Rivers shall be available for the unrestricted use of India until the arising of any unwanted situation.
  • The waters of Western rivers - Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab were allocated to Pakistan except for specified domestic, non-consumptive, and agricultural use permitted to India as provided in the Treaty. 
  • The Indus Treaty also required the setting up of a Permanent Indus Commission on both sides, constituted by permanent commissioners.
  • The functions of the Permanent Indus Commission include serving as a forum for the exchange of information on the rivers, for continued cooperation, and as the first stop for the resolution of conflicts.
  • The Indus Water Treaty 1960 also allows Pakistan to raise objections over projects being built by India if it does not find them to be compliant with the specifications. Whereas, India has to share information on the project design or alterations made to it with Pakistan, which is required to respond with objections, if any, within three months of receipt.
  • The Indus Water Treaty provides a three-step dispute resolution mechanism, issues from both sides can be resolved at the Permanent Commission, or can also be taken up at the inter-government level.
  • In case of unresolved questions or “differences” between the countries on water-sharing, such as technical differences, either side can approach the World Bank to appoint a Neutral Expert (NE) to come to a decision.

Indus Treaty UPSC: Hydroelectric Projects

  • India has constructed the following dams utilizing the waters of the Eastern rivers which have been exclusively allocated to India. These Projects include the Pong and Pandoh Dam on Beas, Ranjit Sagar on Ravi, and Bhakra Dam on Satluj. 
  • The works like the Madhopur-Beas Link, Beas-Sutlej Link, and Indira Gandhi Nahar Project have helped India utilize nearly 95 % of the waters of Eastern rivers.
  • Even after all this, around 2 MAF (Million Acre Feet) of water from Ravi is still reported to be flowing unutilized to Pakistan, annually. To stop the flow of these waters that belong to India for its utilization, India has taken up the recent projects:
    • Ravi Beas 2nd Link below Ujh- The government of India declared this project as National Project. Through this project, the government is planning to tap excess water flow through the river Ravi in Pakistan. It will be done by constructing a barrage across the river Ravi for diverting water through a tunnel linked to the Beas basin. The government of India declared this project a National Project.
    • Ujh multipurpose project- Ujh is a tributary of the Ravi river. This project will create storage of water on river Ujh for irrigation and power generation in India. This project is accredited with the National Project tag.
    • Shahpurkandi Project- The construction of the Shahpurkandi Project is being undertaken by the Government of Punjab under the monitoring of the Government of India. This project will help in utilizing the waters coming out from the powerhouse of Ranjit Sagar or the Thein dam for irrigation and power generation in the state of Punjab and UT of Jammu and Kashmir. 

Indus Water Treaty UPSC Notes PDF

The Indus Water Treaty is often taken as an example of the possible peaceful coexistence in geopolitical contexts. But in the wake of recent developments of the Uri Attacks, the Indian Prime Minister remarked that blood and water cannot flow simultaneously. This statement of the Indian PM on a world platform indicated that Pakistan should not support terrorism across the border, and if it does so, it will lead to India rethinking its generous stance on the Indus Water Treaty.

To get a complete analysis of the Indus Water Treaty, download the Indus Water Treaty PDF.

☛  Download Indus Water Treaty PDF

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Indus Water Treaty FAQs

  • The Indus Water Treaty is a water distribution Treaty or Agreement between India and Pakistan, signed in 1960. The World Bank brokered the Indus Water Treaty meeting between the two countries, India and Pakistan. On the recommendations of the UN (Permanent Indus Commission), the World Bank came up with the Indus Water Treaty in 1954, and the Treaty was signed on September 19, 1960.

  • The Indus Water Treaty was signed by the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the then Pakistani President Ayub Khan in 1960.

  • The main features of the Indus Water Treaty 1960 are:

    • The allocation of the eastern and the western rivers was demarcated exclusively. The Indus Water Treaty made it clear that 80% of the share of water was for Pakistan while leaving 20% of the water will be used by India.
    • The Indus Treaty also required the setting up of a Permanent Indus Commission in both countries


  • To download the complete UPSC Notes on Indus Water Treaty 1960, refer here. Download the Indus Water Treaty PDF to get a complete picture of the topic and be well prepared for the upcoming IAS exam. 


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