Indus water is the water sharing agreement between India and Pakistan that was signed in 1960. The treaty divides the water of Indus River system between two countries, with India controlling the water of three western rivers (the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab) and Pakistan controlling the water of eastern rivers (the Ravi, Sutlej, and Beas)
Climate change is demanding a in the Indus water treaty because it is causing changes in the Indus River system that is making it more difficult for India and Pakistan to share the water of the river in a fair and equitable way. These changes include.
- Reduced glaciers melt which is the primary source of water for the Indus River
- Increased frequency and intensity of droughts.
- Increased frequency and intensity of floods.
- Change in precipitation pattern.
1 Reduced glacier melt is reducing the flow of water in the Indus River which is affecting the ability of Pakistan to meet its water requirements. Pakistan has argued that India should release more water from western rivers to compensate for the reduced glacier melt.
- The increased frequency and intensity of droughts is also a challenge to the Indus water treaty. When there is drought both India and Pakistan need to share the available water more carefully. However, this can be difficult to do if the two countries are not able to cooperate effectively.
- Change in precipitation pattern is also making it more difficult for India and Pakistan to share the water of the Indus River system. If pattern of precipitation changes it could affect the amount of water available to each country. This could lead to conflict between the two countries.
Need for change in Indus water treaty:
- Water share: India gets to use eastern rivers which constitutes 80% of Indus basin. Due to change in precipitation pattern in Himalayan region and glacier melting there is impact on water share of both the countries.
- Agriculture: major region of India and Pakistan around Indus drainage basin is based on agriculture. Due to climate change amount of water in rivers is affected, it affects agriculture and food security.
- To fulfil energy security: increase in population and urbanisation over period of 70 years requires more energy to fulfil needs of people.
Although 3 and 7 provides India to construct hydropower projects for example Kishanganga project on Jhelum River basin.
However, India has shown its responsible nature as upper riparian by abiding the provisions of treaty till date. Both countries should negotiate as responsible nations over Indus water treaty in context of climate change effects on Himalayan glaciers and there is need to ensure water security, food security and energy security in Indus drainage region, despite the troubled relationships between the two countries.