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India to attend Lahore meet on Indus Waters Treaty (Relevant for GS Prelims, GS mains Paper II)

Possible change in India’s Stand
Signalling a major shift in its position on talks with Pakistan on the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT), India has accepted an invitation to attend the next meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) to be held in Lahore in March.

India had suspended the talks after the Uri attacks in September on army camp attack in which 19 soldiers were killed.

What the Government has to say about this?
Government says it is a regular bilateral meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission which implements the Indus Waters Treaty, denying that there was any “shift” in India’s position.

Other Issues of conflict 
In November another controversy erupted over the World Bank decision to constitute a Court of Arbitration to look into complaints from Pakistan over India’s construction of Kishenganga and Ratle river water projects. India said the World Bank decision was biased in Pakistan’s favour, threatening to “take steps” against it.Eventually the matter was resolved after it was taken up at the highest levels.

About Indus Waters Treaty
The Indus Waters Treaty is a water-distribution treaty between India and Pakistan, brokered by the World Bank (then the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development). The treaty was signed in Karachi on September 19, 1960 by Prime Minister of India Jawaharlal Nehru and President of Pakistan Ayub Khan.

The Indus system of rivers comprises three western rivers — the Indus, the Jhelum and Chenab — and three eastern rivers — the Sutlej, the Beas and the Ravi. The treaty, under Article 5.1, envisages the sharing of waters of the rivers Ravi, Beas, Sutlej, Jhelum and Chenab which join the Indus River on its left bank (eastern side) in Pakistan. According to this treaty, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej, which constitute the eastern rivers, are allocated for exclusive use by India before they enter Pakistan. However, a transition period of 10 years was permitted in which India was bound to supply water to Pakistan from these rivers until Pakistan was able to build the canal system for utilization of waters of Jhelum, Chenab and the Indus itself, allocated to it under the treaty. Similarly, Pakistan has exclusive use of the western rivers Jhelum, Chenab and Indus. Pakistan also received one-time financial compensation for the loss of water from the eastern rivers. Since March 31, 1970, after the 10-year moratorium, India has secured full rights for use of the waters of the three rivers allocated to it. The treaty resulted in partitioning of the rivers rather than sharing of their waters. 

The countries agree to exchange data and co-operate in matters related to the treaty. For this purpose, treaty creates the Permanent Indus Commission, with a commissioner appointed by each country. It would follow the set procedure for adjudicating any future disputes arising over the allocation of waters. The Commission has survived three wars and provides an ongoing mechanism for consultation and conflict resolution through inspection, exchange of data and visits. The Commission is required to meet regularly to discuss potential disputes as well as cooperative arrangements for the development of the basin. Either party must notify the other of plans to construct any engineering works which would affect the other party and to provide data about such works. In cases of disagreement, a neutral expert is called in for mediation and arbitration. While neither side has initiated projects that could cause the kind of conflict that the Commission was created to resolve, the annual inspections and exchange of data continue, unperturbed by tensions on the subcontinent.
 



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