Fact check: has India violated the Indus Water Treaty?

News Desk

The tensions between Pakistan and India have reduced over the past week, however, India has chosen to add fuel to the fire by restricting the water flow of the three eastern rivers shared between the two countries.

At an event in Rajasthan, Indian Union Minister of State for Water Resources, Arjun Mehghwal, announced the move taken by India on Sunday. He added that India had restricted approximately 0.53 million acre-feet of water from river Beas, Ravi and Sutlej.

In another statement the Union Minister said, “The water has been stored and will be used whenever Rajasthan or Punjab needs it. It can be used for drinking or irrigation purposes.”

The question then arises as to whether India has violated the Indus Water Treaty through this latest move, and how will it affect Pakistan. To answer this we must examine the treaty and see if any violations have occurred.

The Indus Water Treaty

According to the treaty, signed on September 19, 1960 by then Indian PM Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistani President Ayub Khan, the control over the water flow of the three eastern rivers – Ravi, Sutlej and Beas – would be given to India, while the control over the water flowing in the three western rivers – Indus, Chenab and Jhelum – would be given to Pakistan.

With regards to the treaty, because the rivers under Pakistan’s control had a higher capacity of water flow, India was allowed to use the western rivers for limited irrigation use, unrestricted power generation and, some domestic and industrial uses, whereas, they were not allowed to use it for building projects.

However, the disruption will not affect Pakistan too greatly as 82% of the water in the Indus Basin actively flows in and through Pakistan. Therefore, India’s latest step is a very small disruption of the Indus Water treaty despite the allowance from Pakistan to use the western rivers for limited purposes.

It remains unclear whether New Delhi’s latest act of aggression could be viewed as a violation of the Indus Water Treaty.

Express Tribune

The bigger issue with the control and the utilization of water from these rivers is that, both countries utilization and allocation of the water in these rivers is very poor, as a result of which the countries end up losing millions of gallons of water.

As a result, they may have to take steps like these [like the one India has just taken] to efficiently allocate and use water.

Upon examination, it is clear that India has not violated the treaty and restricted flow on the three eastern rivers is their right. The move will also have little or no effect on Pakistan’s water flows. In conclusion, we can see that the statement by the Indian politician on restricting Pakistan’s water flows was merely for propaganda purposes and has no real negative effect on Pakistan.


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