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Water disputes in South Asia

South Asian boundaries seem to be given rise to conflict rather than cooperation.

india Updated: May 07, 2003 17:54 IST

South Asian boundaries seem to be given rise to conflict rather than cooperation. The case is true at least in the crucial area of river water sharing as countries downstream have almost without exception found cause to upstream nations. Both the major river systems of the subcontinent, - Indus and its tributaries, as well as the Ganga - Brahmaputra system have given rise to numerous conflicts between the countries involved - India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal.

What has created more bitterness is the otherwise volatile political equations in the subcontinent, which have caused the sharing of river water to be particularly keenly contested. India by virtue of having a shared river course with all these countries, has been involved in disputes with all of them over water-sharing.

The main disputes are:
The Indus and its tributaries

Feuding nations: India and Pakistan

The Ganga - Brahmaputra system
Feuding nations: India and Bangladesh

Kosi, Mahakali
Feuding nations: India and Nepal

River basins shared by India:

RiverArea in square kmsCountryArea & per centin each country

Fenney2,800 India 1,80065.83
Bangladesh 1,000 34.17

India948,400 58.01
China321,300 19.65
Nepal 147,400 9.01
Bangladesh 107,100 6.55
Bhutan 39,900 2.44
Myanmar 80

Indus 1,138,800Pakistan 597,700 52.48
India 381,600 33.51
China 76,200 6.69
Afghanistan 72,100 6.33
Chinese control, claimed by India
9,600 0.84
Indian control, claimed by China
1,600 0.14

Irrawaddy404,200Myanmar368,600 91.20
China 18,500 4.58
India 14,100 3.49

Kaladan 30,500Myanmar 22,900 74.91
India 7,30023.84

Karnaphuli12,500Bangladesh 7,400 58.78
India 5,100 41.14
Myanmar 10 0.09

International water disputes

List of International basins
Map of International basins
UNESCO 'Water Cooperation Facility' to mediate water disputes

First Published: May 07, 2003 17:54 IST