India to discuss international water treaties of neighbouring countries


A parliamentary committee will consider India’s international water treaties with neighbouring countries next week, including with China amid less-than cordial relations between the two countries in the wake of deadly clash between the two armies in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh in June.

The committee will discuss issues related to similar treaties with Pakistan, Nepal and Bhutan regarding water resource management as well as flood management in India.

The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Water Resources is set to hold its meeting on Tuesday, in which “oral evidence” by the representatives of Ministry of Jal Shakti (Department of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation) and the Ministry of External Affairs will be put forth.

A Parliament source privy to the development told IANS that the committee will take up issues based on the oral submissions by the two Ministries, and move suggestions if new agreement or some changes are necessary.

As per a parliamentary note circulated by the Committee Secretariat, the matter regarding the “oral evidence by the two Ministries on the subject of ‘Flood Management in the country, including international water treaties in the field of water resource management/flood control with particular reference to treaty/agreement entered into with Nepal, China, Pakistan and Bhutan’ will be discussed in the meeting.

The meeting will be held from 2 pm onwards on Tuesday on Parliament premises.

Parliament of India. Image – YinYang, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Formed on September 13 this year, the 31-member Committee will take up the issue for the first time after its formation in the wake of India-China face-off.

A total of 21 Lok Sabha and 10 Rajya Sabha members would discuss the issue and then submit the report to Parliament on which Indian government would take further decisions.

The agenda papers regarding the meeting will be circulated to the parliamentarians in electronic form only on e-portal and the MPs have been requested to make it convenient to attend the sitting of the committee.

Bharatiya Janata Party leader Sanjay Jaiswal, who is an MP from Paschim Champaran in Bihar, will head the meeting as Chair.

Narayana Swamy Abbaiah, Vijay Baghel, Bhagirath Chaudhary, Nand Kumar Singh Chauhan, Nihal Chand Chauhan, Chandra Prakash Choudhary, Guman Singh Damor, Heena Vijaykumar Gavit, K Jayakumar, Kaushal Kishore, Dhanush M Kumar, Mohammad Akbar Lone, Kuruva Gorantla Madhav, Shri Hasmukhbhai Somabhai Patel, Dipsinh Shankarsinh Rathod, P Raveendranath Kumar, Nusrat Jahan Ruhi, Agatha K Sangma, Suresh, and Kempegowda Doddaalahalli are among the Lok Sabha members on the committee.

The Rajya Sabha members include Balwinder Singh Bhunder, Harshvardhan Singh Dungarpur, NR Elango, Mir Mohammad Fayaz, Kirodi Lal Meena, A Mohammedjan, Arun Singh, Rewati Raman Singh, Subhash Chandra Singh, and Pradeep Tamta.

It would be the first such meeting on the issue amid the ongoing crisis, including the stand-off at the Line of Actual Control with China. The move might influence the trajectory of South Asia’s transboundary water security.

Water policies on shared rivers have far-reaching consequences for India as well as neighbouring countries because of shared waterways amid growing populations, climate change and expanding demand for water.

Following the 2017 Doklam crisis, China withheld monsoon data, critical for flood management in northeast India, thereby violating terms of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). Later in 2019, following the Pulwama attacks, India’s plan to divert water flowing into Pakistan gained momentum.

Neither of these instances had anything to do with the shared waters or existing agreements, yet they had detrimental effects on the resource as well as the potential for furthering dialogue on joint management or cooperation.

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