India has issued a notice to Pakistan for modification of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) in view of Islamabad’s ”intransigence” in the implementation of the pact, inked over six decades back for matters relating to cross-border rivers, government sources said on Friday.
The notice sent on January 25 through respective commissioners for Indus waters, is set to open up the process for making changes to the treaty that was inked on September 19, 1960, they said.
India and Pakistan signed the treaty after nine years of negotiations, with the World Bank being a signatory of the pact which sets out a mechanism for cooperation and information exchange between the two sides on the use of waters of a number of cross-border rivers.
”The objective of the notice for modification is to provide Pakistan an opportunity to enter into intergovernmental negotiations within 90 days to rectify the material breach of IWT. This process would also update IWT to incorporate the lessons learned over the last 62 years,” said a source.
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It is learnt that India issued the notice in view of Pakistan’s ”intransigence” on a solution to the differences over the Kishenganga and Ratle Hydro Electric Projects. The notice was sent as per provisions of Article XII (3) of IWT.
India has always been a steadfast supporter and a responsible partner in implementing IWT in letter and spirit, sources asserted.
”However, Pakistan’s actions have adversely impinged on the provisions of IWT and their implementation, and forced India to issue an appropriate notice for modification of the pact,” said another source.
In 2015, Pakistan requested the appointment of a neutral expert to examine its technical objections to India’s Kishenganga and Ratle Hydro Electric Projects (HEPs).
In 2016, Pakistan unilaterally retracted this request and proposed that a Court of Arbitration adjudicate on its objections, the sources said.
They said this ”unilateral action” by Pakistan is in contravention of the graded dispute settlement mechanism envisaged by Article IX of IWT.
Accordingly, India made a separate request for the matter to be referred to a neutral expert.
”The initiation of two simultaneous processes on the same questions and the potential of their inconsistent or contradictory outcomes creates an unprecedented and legally untenable situation, which risks endangering IWT itself,” the source said.
”The World Bank acknowledged this itself in 2016, and took a decision to ‘pause’ the initiation of two parallel processes and request India and Pakistan to seek an amicable way out,” it said.
According to sources, despite repeated efforts by India to find a mutually agreeable way forward, Pakistan refused to discuss the issue during the five meetings of the Permanent Indus Commission from 2017 to 2022.
They said that at Pakistan’s continuing insistence, the World Bank has recently initiated actions on both the neutral expert and Court of Arbitration processes.
The sources added that such parallel consideration of the same issues is not covered under any provision of IWT.
”Faced with such violation of IWT provisions, India has been compelled to issue a notice of modification,” the source cited above said.
Under the Indus Water Treaty, all the waters of the eastern rivers — Sutlej, Beas, and Ravi — amounting to around 33 million acre-feet (MAF) annually are allocated to India for unrestricted use.
The waters of western rivers – Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab – amounting to around 135 MAF annually have been assigned largely to Pakistan. India is permitted to construct the run of the river plants on western rivers with limited storage as per criteria specified in the treaty.
Under the provisions of Article VIII(5) of the Indus Waters Treaty, the Permanent Indus Commission is required to meet at least once a year.