The World Bank has said that India is allowed to construct hydroelectric power plants on the Jhelum and Chenab Rivers after secretary-level discussions between India and Pakistan on the technical issues over the Indus Waters Treaty concluded recently in a spirit of goodwill and cooperation.
What the disagreement is about:
India and Pakistan disagree about the construction of the Kishenganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts) hydroelectric power plants being built by India (the World Bank is not financing either project). The two countries disagree over whether the technical design features of the two hydroelectric plants contravene the Treaty. The plants are on respectively a tributary of the Jhelum and the Chenab Rivers. The Treaty designates these two rivers as well as the Indus as the “Western Rivers” to which Pakistan has an unrestricted use. Among other uses, India is permitted to construct hydroelectric power facilities on these rivers subject to constraints specified in Annexures to the Treaty.
What is the Indus Water Treaty (IWT)?
The six rivers of the Indus basin originate in Tibet and flow across the Himalayan ranges to end in the Arabian sea south of Karachi. The components of the treaty were fairly simple. The three western rivers (Jhelum, Chenab and Indus) were allocated to Pakistan while India was given control over the three eastern rivers (Ravi, Beas and Sutlej). While India could use the western rivers for consumption purpose, restrictions were placed on the building of storage systems. The treaty states that aside from certain specific cases, no storage and irrigation systems can be built by India on the western rivers.