Indus Water Treaty 1960 – Provisions, Issues, Main Points, IWT UPSC

By BYJU'S Exam Prep

Updated on: November 14th, 2023

The Indus Water Treaty is a water distribution agreement signed between India and Pakistan, in 1960. The treaty was signed with the help of the World Bank between the former Indian PM Jawaharlal Nehru, and Ayub Khan, the then-Pakistani President. The Indus-Water treaty reiterates the fact that the three eastern rivers allocated to India are Ravi, Sutlej, and Beas while the Western rivers have been allocated to Pakistan Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab. Walk through the article to gain insights into the topic and bring forth a methodical strategy to prepare for the same. The 60th anniversary of the Indus Water Treaty was on 19th September 2020.

The Indus Water Treaty also outlines the mechanisms for sharing data and resolving disputes related to water usage between the two countries. It has been in place for over six decades and has survived three major wars between India and Pakistan. As a result, it is a critical part of the UPSC Syllabus and an essential topic in the context of geopolitical issues.

What is Indus Water Treaty?

Since the partition between India and Pakistan, which divided one nation into two different states, there have been many political disputes. However, these disputes and tensions cannot deny that water is the most essential resource for both nations. Hence, the Indus Water Treaty was signed and both countries have continued to uphold the treaty despite occasional tensions.

  • In 1948, India blocked water to Pakistan for some time but later restored it after the ceasefire. As per an Inter-dominion Accord in May 1948, India supplied water to Pakistan for an annual payment but later, both nations could not agree on common ground.
  • Against the backdrop of the water-sharing dispute between Pakistan and India, both 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, an agreement was signed between the two countries, known as the Indus Water Treaty.

Provisions of Indus Water Treaty [IWT]

The Indus River System basin consists of six rivers that originate from Tibet. The Indus Water Treaty allocates the Western Rivers to Pakistan and the Eastern Rivers to India. The provisions of the treaty can be summarized in the following points:

  • The treaty divides the Indus River and its tributaries between India and Pakistan.
  • It allocates a specific volume of water to each country from the Indus Basin. India is allowed to use 20% of the total water of the Indus Basin, while Pakistan is allowed to use the remaining 80%.
  • The Indus-Water treaty requires both countries to exchange data and information about the flow of water in the rivers and their tributaries. This information is essential for ensuring the effective implementation of the treaty.
  • The treaty allows for the construction of hydroelectric power projects on the rivers, subject to certain conditions.

Indus Water Treaty

Indus-Water Treaty 1960 Main Points

The Indus Water Treaty determined how the flow of water from the six rivers would be segregated between the two countries, India and Pakistan. The eastern and western rivers were assigned. The treaty prescribed that 80% of the water be allocated to Pakistan and 20% be utilized by India.

  • The water flowing from the three Eastern rivers was allocated to India for exclusive use. It was decided that the water from the Eastern rivers will be utilized by India unrestrictedly.
  • The water flowing from the western rivers Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab was assigned to Pakistan. India was permitted specific domestic and Non-consumption uses and agricultural uses by the treaty.
  • The Permanent Indus Commission was instituted on both sides, comprising permanent commissioners.
  • The major roles of the Permanent Commission included facilitating a forum for the communication of information about the rivers, and as the first halt for the resolution of the conflicts.
  • The provisions of the Indus Water Treaty permitted Pakistan to raise objections over the projects being constructed by India if it feels it is not according to the specifications. India is also required to share project designs or changes made to it with Pakistan, which has to convey the objections if any within three months of its receipt.
  • In the case of unresolved issues or differences arising between the countries on sharing of the water, either of the countries can reach out to the World Bank to appoint a Neutral Expert to reach to a conclusion.

Indus River Treaty – Hydroelectric Projects

Under the Indus Water Treaty, both India and Pakistan are allowed to build hydroelectric power projects on the rivers within their respective territories. However, this is subject to certain restrictions. India has built several hydroelectric power projects on these rivers, including the Bhakra-Nangal Dam on the Sutlej River and the Pong Dam on the Beas River.

These projects have helped India meet its energy needs and have also provided water for irrigation to the states of Punjab, Haryana, and Rajasthan. On the other hand, Pakistan has raised concerns that these projects could reduce the flow of water to its side of the river, affecting its agriculture and economy. As a result of these concerns, a Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) was formed under the Indus Water Treaty.

Issues With Indus Water Treaty Between India and Pakistan

There are numerous issues centering on the Indus Water treaty between India and Pakistan. During the Tulbul Project, Pakistan raised objections which lead to the suspension of the project in 1987. Another issue that is raised pertaining to the Indus river treaty is that it was signed by the then-Prime Minister of India while it needed to be signed by the then-President of India [Head of the State]. The LOBD [Left Bank Outfall Drain] project has been established by Pakistan without the consent of Indian officials. It passes from the Rann of Katch in Gujarat and poses a threat of flood in the nearby territories. India had raised objections as it is an infringement of the IWT.

Indus Water Treaty [IWT] – Latest Updates

The Indus Water Treaty is often taken as an example of possible peaceful coexistence in geopolitical contexts. But in the case of recent 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 re-evaluating its benevolent attitude toward the Indus Water Treaty.

Indus Water Treaty UPSC

The Indus Water Treaty UPSC is an important geopolitical issue, which remains in news. It is covered under the Current Affairs in Prelims, as well as in GS Paper 2 of the UPSC Mains. The exam is unpredictable and can ask anything that is under the Sun, or anything the Commission thinks a suitable UPSC candidate must know. To get a complete analysis of the Indus Water Treaty, download the Indus Water Treaty PDF.

Indus Water Treaty UPSC PDF

To prepare for the Indus Water Treaty 1960, a candidate must refer to the NCERT Books for UPSC, along with the books on Geography. The Indus Treaty can also be covered through Geography Books to get detailed information about the topic.

Indus Water Treaty UPSC Questions

Practising the questions pertaining to the topic “Indus-Water Treaty” will assist the candidates in tracking their level of understanding of the core concepts and fundamentals. The experts have curated the questions based on the previous year’s questions. Candidates can start practising the questions to uplift their preparation level.

Question: What are the contentious issues between India and Pakistan with reference to the Indus-Water Treaty? [1] Lower Kalnai Project [2] Ratle Hydroelectricity [3] Pakul Dul

Which of the following statements is correct? [A] 1 and 2 [B] All of the Above [C] 2 and 3 [D] 1 and 3

Answer: Option B (All of the Above) Lower Kalnai Project, Ratle Hydroelectricity and Pakul Dul.

Question: Which river is not a part of the Indus-Water Treaty? [A] Chenab [B] Ravi [C] Teesta [D] Beas.

Answer: Option [C] Teesta

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