Flow of Ravi water to Pakistan fully stopped

GS Paper I

News Excerpt

The flow of water from the Ravi River to Pakistan has been completely halted with the completion of the Shahpur Kandi barrage.

Shahpur Kandi barrage:

  • It is located in Punjab’s Pathankot district, situated on the border of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir.
  • The foundation stone for the Shahpur Kandi Barrage Project was laid by former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao in 1995.
  • In 2018, Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab signed an agreement to resume work on the Shahpur-Kandi dam project, which had been hanging fire for the last 40 years.
  • The project faced several disputes between the governments of Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab, leading to its suspension for over four and a half years.

Benefits of a halt on the flow of water from Ravi River to Pakistan:

  • Allocation for Jammu and Kashmir: The halt on the flow of water from Ravi River to Pakistan means that the Jammu and Kashmir region will now benefit from the 1,150 cusecs of water that was previously allocated to Pakistan.
  • Irrigation Benefits: The water will be used for irrigation purposes, benefiting over 32,000 hectares of land in the Kathua and Samba districts.
  • Priority Status by Prime Minister: The Prime Minister accorded the highest priority to the Shahpur-Kandi dam project as it has the potential to irrigate thousands of acres of agricultural land in Jammu and Kashmir.
  • Maximum Utilization of Ravi River: The completion of the barrage allows India to make maximum use of the Ravi River, ensuring that the water previously flowing towards Pakistan from the old Lakhanpur dam will now be utilized in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab.
    • Approximately 2 million acre-feet of water from the Ravi River is still flowing unutilized to Pakistan below Madhopur.
  • Contribution to Agricultural and Economic Growth: With the completion of the barrage, India can now harness the water resources from the Ravi River for its own benefit, contributing to agricultural and economic growth in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab.

River distribution between India and Pakistan under Indus Water Treaty:

  • Under the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty, signed between India and Pakistan in 1960, all the water of the eastern rivers - Sutlej, Beas, and Ravi amounting to around 33 million acre-feet (MAF) annually — is allocated to India for unrestricted use.
  • The waters of western riversIndus, Jhelum, and Chenab — amounting to around 135 MAF annually have been assigned largely to Pakistan.
  • According to the Treaty, India has been given the right to generate hydroelectricity through run-of-the-river projects on the western rivers subject to specific criteria for design and operation.
  • The Treaty also gives the right to Pakistan to raise objections to the design of Indian hydroelectric projects on western rivers.
  • Pakistan roughly got 80% of the water in the Indus drainage system. 
  • India got about 3.3 crore of 16.8 crore acre-feet of water in the Indus system. At current usage, India utilises a little over 90% of its quota of Indus waters.

Other River projects of India:

  • India has already constructed several storage works, including the Bhakra Dam on the Sutlej, Pong and Pandoh Dam on the Beas, and Thein (Ranjitsagar) on the Ravi.
  • These projects, along with others like the Beas-Sutlej link and the Indira Gandhi Nahar Project, have allowed India to utilize nearly its entire share (95%) of the waters from the eastern rivers.

Problems created by Pakistan:

  • Every time India makes a move to use its quota of water or build a dam as allowed under the treaty, Pakistan objects, fuelling tension between the two countries.
    • For example, the Tulbul Navigation Project, which the Indian government resolved to speed up after the Uri terror attack.
    • The Tulbul project, called the Wullar Barrage project by Pakistan, is an old plan, which was put on hold in 1987 after objections from the other side.
  • Despite repeated efforts by India to find a mutually agreeable way forward, Pakistan refused to discuss the issue during the previous meetings of the Permanent Indus Commission from 2017 to 2023.
  • At Pakistan's continuing insistence, the World Bank has initiated actions on both the neutral expert and Court of Arbitration processes.

The completion of the Shahpur Kandi barrage marks a historic shift as the flow of Ravi River water to Pakistan has ceased. This step, in accordance with the Indus Waters Treaty, allows India to utilize its share more efficiently, benefiting regions like Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab.


Mains PYQ

Q. Present an account of the Indus Water Treaty and examine its ecological, economic and political implications in the context of changing bilateral relations. (UPSC 2016)

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