Indus Waters Treaty (IWT)

What’s the News?

India recently made a proposal to Pakistan to hold a meeting to discuss the potential renegotiation of the Indus Waters Treaty

What is the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT)?

  • It is a Waters-sharing agreement between India and Pakistan that regulates the use and distribution of the Indus River system signed in 1960, under the supervision of the World Bank
  • After a dispute broke out between the two countries over irrigation Waters from existing facilities, the Indus Waters Treaty was signed in Karachi on September 19, 1960, by then Pakistani President – Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan, former Indian PM Jawaharlal Nehru, and World Bank’s W.A.B. Illif.
  • The treaty took effect on April 1, 1961.
  • It aims to allocate the use of and resolve disputes over the Indus River and its tributaries, which flow through China, India, and Pakistan
  • The treaty allocates three eastern rivers (Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej) to India, and three western rivers (Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab) to Pakistan.
  • The treaty is a legally binding agreement that outlines rights, responsibilities, dispute resolution mechanisms, and environmental considerations


  • The treaty fixed and delimited the rights and obligations of both countries concerning the use of the waters of the Indus River system.
  • According to the treaty, the waters of eastern rivers go to India, whereas the waters of western rivers primarily go to Pakistan
  • It also required both the countries to establish a Permanent Indus Commission constituted by permanent commissioners on both sides.
  • According to the provisions of the IWT, the Permanent Indus Commission is required to meet at least once a year.
  • While Pakistan has rights over the waters of Jhelum, Chenab and Indus, Annexure C of the IWT allows India certain agricultural uses
  • Annexure D allows it to build ‘run of the river’ hydropower projects, meaning projects not requiring live storage of water.
  • It provides a three-step dispute resolution mechanism under Article IX of the Indus Waters Treaty, under which “questions” on both sides can be resolved at the Permanent Commission, or can also be taken up at the inter-government level.
  • In case of unresolved questions or “differences” between the countries on water-sharing, such as technical differences, either side can approach the World Bank to appoint a Neutral Expert (NE) to come to a decision.


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