Myth 1: India plans the treaty’s abrogation
Reality: India is using only 4% of the permitted 20%.So it’s well within its rights
  • 3 Eastern rivers - Ravi, Beas, Sutlej and their tributaries
  • 3 Western rivers - Indus, Jhelum, Chenab and their tributaries
  • The waters of Eastern rivers are fully allocated to India. The annual average flow of these rivers is 33 Million Acre Feet (MAF)
  • The annual average flow of Western rivers is 135 MAF
  • India can use 20% (27 MAF) of Western rivers water can be used by India for domestic use, non consumptive use such as navigation, flood control, agriculture and power generation
  • Only 4% (5.4 MAF) of Western rivers water is used by India due to lack of storage facilities
  • Out of 5.4 MAF, 3.6 MAF is used for general use, power generation etc. Rest is used for agriculture
Myth 2: India can abrogate the treaty at its will
Reality: The treaty has no provision for either country unilaterally walking out of the pact
  • Article XII of the treaty says “The provisions of this Treaty, or, the provisions of this Treaty as modified under the provisions of Paragraph (3), shall continue in force until terminated by a duly ratified treaty concluded for that purpose between the two governments.” Still if India wants to go about abrogating it, the country should abide by the 1969 Vienna convention on the law of treaties
Myth 3: India can stop water flow from western rivers to Pakistan anytime
Reality: India virtually has no storage in western rivers and thus can’t stop the water flow
Below are the 'planned' projects
  • 1) Pakal Dul Dam on Marusadar, Chenab’s tributary, in Kishtwar district
  • 2) Sawalkot on Jhelum in Udhampur
  • 3) Bursar dam in Kishtwar district also on Chenab
But the idea of building dams for hydropower generation will help India in storage through pondage. Take a look the following table for details
  • Power generation capacity of Western rivers
  • Potential assessed: 18,653 MW
  • In operation: 3,034 MW
  • Under construction: 2,526 MW
  • Under various stages of planning: 5, 846 MW
Water tussle timeline
  • 1948: India cuts off supply in most canals that went to Pakistan. But restores it later
  • 1951: Pakistan accuses India of cutting water to many of its villages
  • 1954: Word Bank comes up with a water-sharing formula for two countries
  • 1960: Indus Waters Treaty signed
  • 1970’s: India starts building hydropower projects in Kashmir. Pakistan raises concern
  • 1984: Pakistan objects over India building Tulbul barrage on Jhelum. India stops it unilaterally
  • 2007: Pakistan raises concern over Kishanganga hydroelectric plant
  • 2008: Lashkar-e-Taiba starts campaign against India. Its chief Hafiz Saeed accuses India of water terrorism
  • 2010: Pakistan accuses India of choking water supply consistently
  • 2016: India reviews working of Indus Waters Treaty linking it with cross-border terrorism
How much is a million acre foot of water?
An acre foot is a unit of volume commonly used to large-scale water resources, such as reservoirs, aqueducts, canals, and river flows. It defined by the volume of water necessary to cover one acre of surface area to a depth of one foot
  • 1 acre foot of water is equal to 3,25,851 gallons or 12,33,480 litres of water
  • Now, imagine a huge water truck which can carry exactly 10,000 gallons of water. To carry 1 acre foot of water we need 32.5 such trucks
  • For 1 million acre foot of water we need 3,25,00,000 such trucks (3.25 crore trucks)
  • For 33 million acre foot of water we need 1,07,25,00,000 such trucks (100 crore such trucks approx)
  • For 135 million acre foot of water we need 4,38,75,00,000 (440 crore such trucks approx)