Conflict Management Strategies Among Riparians Within the Indus River Basin
|Geolocation:||31° 32' 44.5492", 74° 20' 22.3537"|
|Total Watershed Population:||178,483,470 million|
|Total Watershed Area:||1,138,800 km2439,690.68 mi²|
|Climate Descriptors:||Moist tropical (Köppen A-type), Semi-arid/steppe (Köppen B-type), Humid mid-latitude (Köppen C-type), Continental (Köppen D-type), Moist, Monsoon|
|Predominant Land Use Descriptors:||agricultural- cropland and pasture, industrial use, forest land, urban- high density, religious/cultural sites|
|Important Uses of Water:||Agriculture or Irrigation, Domestic/Urban Supply, Hydropower Generation|
|Water Features:||Indus River|
|Water Projects:||Permanent Indus Commission|
|Agreements:||Indus Water Treaty|
- 1 Summary
- 2 Natural, Historic, Economic, Regional, and Political Framework
- 3 Analysis, Synthesis, and Insight
- 4 Key Questions
- 5 External Links
The Indus River Basin lies mostly within Pakistan and India with smaller portions of the basin in China and Afghanistan. The terrain and remote location of the basin within the latter countries has limited their use and development of basin waters and to date, major agreements, negotiations, and controversies regarding the Indus and its tributaries have been between India and Pakistan.
Even before the partition of India and Pakistan, the Indus posed problems between the states of British India. The problem became international only after partition, though, and the attendant increased hostility and lack of supra-legal authority only exacerbated the issue. Pakistani territory, which had relied on Indus water for centuries, now found the water sources originating in another country, one with whom geopolitical relations were increasing in hostility. Numerous treaties and agreements were proposed from 1947 through 1960, yet none were able to transform the conflict, and arguments continued up until the Indus Waters Treaty.
The Indus Waters Treaty was signed in Karachi on September 19, 1960 and government ratifications were exchanged in Delhi in January 1961. The Indus Waters Treaty was developed by the World Bank and addressed both the technical and financial concerns of each side, and included a timeline for transition. The treaty also established the Permanent Indus Commission, made up of one Commissioner of Indus Waters from each country.
The question over the flow of the Indus is a classic case of the conflicting claims of up- and down-stream riparians. Since 1960, no projects have been submitted under the provisions for "future cooperation," nor have any issues of water quality been submitted at all. Other disputes have arisen, and been handled in a variety of ways. One controversy surrounding the design and construction of the Salal Dam was resolved through bilateral negotiations between the two governments. Other recent disputes over new hydroelectric projects and the Wullar Barrage (Tubul Project) on the Jhelum tributary and the Baglihar dam on the Chenab River in Kashmir, proved to be quite contentious. After traditional negoations proved unsuccessful, the World Bank assigned an arbitrar to address Pakistans' concerns with the Baglihar Dam. The fate of the Wullar Project is still being negotiated between India and Pakistan.
Natural, Historic, Economic, Regional, and Political Framework
Conflicting Claims for Water by India and Pakistan
Even before the partition of India and Pakistan, the Indus posed problems between the states of British India. The problem became international only after partition, though, and the attendant increased hostility and lack of supra-legal authority only exacerbated the issue. Pakistani territory, which had relied on Indus water for centuries, now found the water sources originating in another country, one with whom geopolitical relations were increasing in hostility. The question over the flow of the Indus is a classic case of the conflicting claims of up- and down-stream riparians. The conflict can be exemplified in the terms for the resumption of water delivery to Pakistan from the Indian headworks, worked out at an Inter-Dominican conference held in Delhi on 3-4 May 1948. India agreed to the resumption of flow, but maintained that Pakistan could not claim any share of those waters as a matter of right . This position was reinforced by the Indian claim that, since Pakistan had agreed to pay for water under the Standstill Agreement of 1947, Pakistan had recognized India’s water rights. Pakistan countered that they had the rights of prior appropriation, and that payments to India were only to cover operation and maintenance costs.  While these conflicting claims were not resolved, an agreement was signed, later referred to as the Delhi Agreement, in which India assured Pakistan that India would not withdraw water delivery without allowing time for Pakistan to develop alternate sources. Pakistan later expressed its displeasure with the agreement in a note dated 16 June 1949, calling for the "equitable apportionment of all common waters," and suggesting turning jurisdiction of the case over to the World Court. India suggested rather that a commission of judges from each side try to resolve their differences before turning the problem over to a third party. This stalemate lasted through 1950.
Attempts at Conflict Management
In 1951, Indian Prime Minister Nehru, whose interest in integrated river management along the lines of the Tennessee Valley Authority had been piqued, invited David Lilienthal, former chairman of the TVA, to visit India. Lilienthal also visited Pakistan and, on his return to the US, wrote an article outlining his impressions and recommendations (the trip had been commissioned by Collier's Magazine-international water was not the initial aim of the visit). These included steps from the psychological-a call to allay Pakistani suspicions of Indian intentions for the Indus headwaters, to the practical-a proposal for greater storage facilities and cooperative management. Lilienthal also suggests that international financing be arranged, perhaps by the World Bank, to fund the workings and findings of an "Indus Engineering Corporation," to include representatives from both states, as well as from the World Bank. The article was read by Lilienthal's friend, David Black, president of the World Bank, who contacted Lilienthal for recommendations on helping to resolve the dispute. As a result, Black contacted the prime ministers of Pakistan and India, inviting both countries to accept the Bank's good offices. In a subsequent letter, Black outlined "essential principles" that might be followed for conflict resolution. These principles included the following: that water resources of the Indus basin should be managed cooperatively; and that problems of the basin should be solved on a functional and not on a political plane, without relation to past negotiations and past claims. Black suggested that India and Pakistan each appoint a senior engineer to work on a plan for development of the Indus basin. A Bank engineer would be made available as an ongoing consultant. Both sides accepted Black's initiative. The first meeting of the Working Party included Indian and Pakistani engineers, along with a team from the Bank, as envisioned by Black, and met for the first time in Washington in May 1952. The stated agenda was to prepare an outline for a program, including a list of possible technical measures to increase the available supplies of Indus River water for economic development. After three weeks of discussions, an outline was agreed to, whose points included:
- Determination of total water supplies, divided by catchment and use
- Determination of the water requirements of cultivable irrigable areas in each country
- Calculation of data and surveys necessary, as requested by either side
- Preparation of cost estimates and a construction schedule of new engineering works which might be included in a comprehensive plan
In a creative avoidance of a potential and common conflict, the parties agreed that any data requested by either side would be collected and verified when possible, but that the acceptance of the data, or the inclusion of any topic for study, would not commit either side to its "relevance or materiality." When the two sides were unable to agree on a common development plan for the basin in subsequent meetings in Karachi, November 1952, and Delhi, January 1953, the Bank suggested that each side submit its own plan. Both sides did submit plans on October 6, 1953, each of which mostly agreed on the supplies available for irrigation, but varied extremely on how these supplies should be allocated (Table 1). The Indian proposal allocated 29 million acre-feet (MAF) per year to India and 90 MAF to Pakistan, totaling 119 MAF (MAF = 1233.48 million cubic meters; since all negotiations were in English units, that is what is reported here). The Pakistani proposal, in contrast, allocated India 15.5 MAF and Pakistan 102.5 MAF, for a total of 118 MAF.
Table 1. Water Allocations From Indus Negotiations, in MAF/year1
|Revised Indian||All of the Eastern rivers and 7% of the Western rivers||None of the eastern rivers and 93% of the western rivers|
|Revised Pakistani||30% of the Eastern rivers and none of the Western rivers||70% of the Eastern rivers and all of the Western rivers|
|World Bank Proposal||Entire flow of the Eastern rivers2||Entire flow of the Western rivers3|
- Initial estimates of supplies available differed only slightly, with the Indian Plan totaling 119 MAF and the Pakistani Plan arriving at 118 MAF. The "eastern rivers" consist of the Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej tributaries; the "western rivers" refer to the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab.
- India would agree to continue to supply Pakistan with its historic withdrawals from these rivers for a transition period to be agreed upon, which would be based on the time necessary to complete Pakistani link canals to replace supplies from India.
- The only exception would be an "insignificant" amount of flow from the Jhelum, used at the time in Kashmir.
- An agreement that Pakistan would receive unrestricted use of the western rivers, which India would allow to flow unimpeded, with minor exceptions
- Provisions for three dams, eight link canals, three barrages, and 2500 tube wells to be built in Pakistan
- A ten-year transition period, from April 1, 1960 to March 31, 1970, during which water would continue to be supplied to Pakistan according to a detailed schedule
- A schedule for India to provide its fixed financial contribution of $62 million, in ten annual installments during the transition period
- Additional provisions for data exchange and future cooperation
The treaty also established the Permanent Indus Commission, made up of one Commissioner of Indus Waters from each country. The two Commissioners would meet annually in order to establish and promote cooperative arrangements for the treaty implementation; promote cooperation between the Parties in the development of the waters of the Indus system; examine and resolve by agreement any question that may arise between the Parties concerning interpretation or implementation of the Treaty; submit an annual report to the two governments. In case of a dispute, provisions were made to appoint a "neutral expert." If the neutral expert fails to resolve the dispute, negotiators can be appointed by each side to meet with one or more mutually agreed-upon mediators. If either side (or the mediator) views mediated agreement as unlikely, provisions are included for the convening of a Court of Arbitration. In addition, the treaty calls for either party, if it undertakes any engineering works on any of the tributaries, to notify the other of its plans and to provide any data which may be requested. Since 1960, no projects have been submitted under the provisions for "future cooperation," nor have any issues of water quality been submitted at all. Other disputes have arisen, and been handled in a variety of ways. The first issues arose from Indian non-delivery of some waters during 1965-66, but became instead a question of procedure and the legality of commission decisions. Negotiators resolved that each commissioner acted as government representatives and that their decisions were legally binding. One controversy surrounding the design and construction of the Salal Dam was resolved through bilateral negotiations between the two governments. Other disputes, over new hydroelectric projects and the Wuller Barrage on the Jhelum tributary and the Baglihar dam on the Chenab River in Kashmir, have yet to be resolved.
Issues and Stakeholders
Negotiating an equitable allocation of the flow of the Indus River and its tributaries between the riparian states; developing a rational plan for integrated watershed development, and financing for development plans.
NSPD: Water Quantity, Water Quality, Governance, Assets, Values and Norms
Stakeholder Types: Sovereign state/national/federal government, Local Government, Non-legislative governmental agency
The Indus Water Treaty was ratified in 1960, with provisions for ongoing conflict resolution. Some suggest that recent meetings have been lukewarm. Physical separation of tributaries may preclude efficient integrated basin management. Renewed attempts to resolve Wuller Barrage and Baglihar dam conflicts begin to take place in July 2004.
Major Stakeholders: India, Pakistan, World BankOther Stakeholders: Pakistan, Nepal, China (not included in this negotiation)
Analysis, Synthesis, and Insight
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Contributed by: Aaron T. Wolf, Joshua T. Newton, Matthew Pritchard (last edit: 12 February 2013)
The points included here are summarized or excerpted from the Oregon State University Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database (TFDD). Matthew Pritchard provided this and other summarized analysis or insights from the TFFD on behalf and with permission of the original authors. Available on-line at: http://www.transboundarywaters.orst.edu/
This ASI discusses some lessons learned from the negotiations and creative outcomes in the agreement.
Water was separated out from other contentious issues between India and Pakistan. This allowed negotiations to continue, even in light of tensions over other topics. Water problems were to be viewed as "functional" rather than political. Some points may be agreed to more quickly, if it is explicitly agreed that a precedent is not being set. In the 1948 agreement, Pakistan agreed to pay India for water deliveries. This point was later used by India to argue that, by paying for the water, Pakistan recognized India’s water rights. Pakistan, in contrast, argued that they were paying only for operation and maintenance. In an early meeting (May 1952), both sides agreed that any data may be used without committing either side to its "relevance or materiality," thereby precluding delays over data discrepancies.
Positive, active, and continuous involvement of a third party is vital in helping to overcome conflict. The active participation of Eugene Black and the World Bank were crucial to the success of the Indus Water Treaty. The Bank offered not only their good offices, but a strong leadership role as well. The Bank provided support staff, funding, and, perhaps most important, its own proposals when negotiations reached a stalemate. Coming to the table with financial assistance can provide sufficient incentive for a breakthrough in agreement. The Bank helped raise almost 900 million from the international community, allowing for Pakistan’s final objections to be addressed.
Power inequities may delay the pace of negotiations. Power inequities may have delayed pace of negotiations. India had both a superior riparian position, as well as a relatively stronger central government, than Pakistan. The combination may have acted as disincentive to reach agreement. In particularly hot conflicts, when political concerns override, a sub-optimal solution may be the best one can achieve. The plan pointedly disregards the principle of integrated water management, recognizing that between these particular riparians, the most important issue was control by each state of its own resource. Structural division of the basin, while crucial for political reasons, effectively precludes the possibility of increased integrated management.
- Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database (TFDD) (2012). Oregon State University. — This website is used to aid in the assessment of the process of water conflict prevention and resolution. Over the years we have developed this Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database, a project of the Oregon State University Department of Geosciences, in collaboration with the Northwest Alliance for Computational Science and Engineering.
- TFDD document: Agreement between Pakistan and India on West Pakistan-India border disputes — This document, "No. 5364. AGREEMENT BETWEEN PAKISTAN AND INDIA ON WEST PAKISTAN-INDIA BORDER DISPUTES SIGNED AT NEW DELHI, ON 11 JANUARY 1960" describes the "agreed decisions and procedures to end disputes and incidents along the indo-west pakistan border areas" and pre-dates the Indus Water Treaty
- ^ 1.0 1.1 Product of the Transboundary Freshwater Dispute Database, Department of Geosciences, Oregon State University.
- ^ Caponera, D. (1987). International Water Resources Law in the Indus Basin. In Water Resources Policy for Asia, ed. M. Ali. Boston: Balkema (4), pp. 509-515.
- ^ Biswas, A. (1992). Indus Water Treaty: The Negotiating Process. Water International, 17, (44), pp. 201- 209
- ^ Alam, U. (2002). Questioning the water wars rational: a case study of the Indus Waters Treaty. The Geographical Journal, 168 (4), pp. 354-64.
|Agreement||Indus Waters Treaty +|
|Area||1,138,800 km² (439,690.68 mi²) +|
|Climate||Moist tropical (Köppen A-type) +, Semi-arid/steppe (Köppen B-type) +, Humid mid-latitude (Köppen C-type) +, Continental (Köppen D-type) +, Moist + and Monsoon +|
|Geolocation||31° 32' 44.5492", 74° 20' 22.3537"Latitude: 31.5457081|
Longitude: 74.3395427 +
|Issue||Negotiating an equitable allocation of the flow of the Indus River and its tributaries between the riparian states; developing a rational plan for integrated watershed development, and financing for development plans. +|
|Key Question||What mechanisms beyond simple allocation can be incorporated into transboundary water agreements to add value and facilitate resolution? +, To what extent can international actors and movements from civil society influence water management? How and when is this beneficial/detrimental and how can these effects be supported/mitigated? + and How does asymmetry of power influence water negotiations and how can the negative effects be mitigated? +|
|Land Use||agricultural- cropland and pasture +, industrial use +, forest land +, urban- high density + and religious/cultural sites +|
|NSPD||Water Quantity +, Water Quality +, Governance +, Assets + and Values and Norms +|
|Population||178,483,470,000,000 million +|
|Riparian||India + and Pakistan +|
|Stakeholder Type||Sovereign state/national/federal government +, Local Government + and Non-legislative governmental agency +|
|Water Feature||Indus River +|
|Water Project||Permanent Indus Commission +|
|Water Use||Agriculture or Irrigation +, Domestic/Urban Supply + and Hydropower Generation +|
|Has subobjectThis property is a special property in this wiki.||Conflict Management Strategies Among Riparians Within the Indus River Basin +, Conflict Management Strategies Among Riparians Within the Indus River Basin + and Conflict Management Strategies Among Riparians Within the Indus River Basin +|