Indus Water Treaty

The Indus Waters Treaty is a water-sharing arrangement signed by then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and then President of Pakistan Ayub Khan on September 19, 1960, in Karachi. It covers the water distribution and sharing rights of six rivers — Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum. The agreement was brokered by the World Bank.

Under the Treaty, all the waters of the Eastern Rivers – Sutlej, Beas, and Ravi – were allocated to India for unrestricted use, except during the transition period of 1 April 1960 to 31 March 1970, during which water had to be supplied to Pakistan so that Pakistan might construct replacement works (two storage dams, eight inter-river link canals and six barrages) for water that was being received earlier from the Eastern Rivers. India agreed to make a fixed contribution of 62 million towards the cost of the replacement works. Pakistan received unrestricted use of the Western Rivers – Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab – which India is “under obligation to let flow” and “shall not permit any interference with these waters,” except for irrigating existing areas and to develop a further 701,000 acres of irrigation from these rivers subject to certain specific conditions. Specific provisions were made for regular exchange of river and canal data between the two countries

The treaty also provides for the partitioning of the rivers by drawing a virtual line on the map of India to split the Indus Basin into upper and lower parts, limiting India’s full sovereignty rights to the lower section (the eastern flowing rivers) and reserving for Pakistan the upper rivers of J & K the so called western flowing rivers.

A Permanent Indus Commission was established to implement the Treaty. Each country has an Indus Commissioner, and they meet regularly – every six months these days – to exchange information and data, and to settle minor disputes. Meetings of the Indus Commissioners have never been suspended – more than 110 rounds of meetings, held alternately in India and Pakistan, have taken place so far.


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