Nepal-India Water Resources Cooperation: a Critical Review

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Nepal – India Water Resources Cooperation: A Critical Review

Dahal Vaskar, Khanal Sonu, Mulmi Ravi, Pokharel Mohan, Pokharel Sunil

Abstract

Nepal has been touted to be rich in water resources and the proper utilization of her vast water resources and the intensification of the tourism industry are considered as one way ride to economic prosperity that the region of South Asia has not been able to boast of till date. This belief highly publicized, especially in the last half century, notwithstanding, the ground reality is that the state has not been able to utilize her water resources to meet the drinking water, irrigation, power and navigational requirements of her people. Her attempts to cooperate at the regional level with regards to trans-boundary rivers for proper management of her water resources also have not yielded any desired outcome. The scope of this paper is to analyze the status of the water resources of Nepal at the regional level. We will first start with the existing water sharing agreements between the states of the region. We will then focus on the Indo – Nepalese relationship – its past, present and future, attempts made and attempts failed. We will try to analyze the reasons behind the scenes that led to the present situation. We will also try suggest the remedial measures to correct the past blunders to the extent of practically possible correction. For this purpose we shall cite the experience earned through various regional as well as the international arrangements. We shall attempt to analyze why Indo – Nepalese relation has been jarred while the Indo – Bhutanese issues on the similar issues have led to the benefits of both of the nations.

Keywords:

GBM Basin of South Asia
The system of the Ganges, the Brahmaputra, and the Meghna (GBM) basin that spans across five countries: Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, India and Nepal is second only to the Amazon river basin with its 1.75 million square kilometer of catchment area. While Bangladesh and India share all the tree river basins, China shares only the Brahmaputra and the Ganges basin, Nepal only the Ganges basin and Bhutan, only the Brahmaputra basin (Salehin et al.). Despite such plethora of water in the region, the development of this region has stuttered for long with a number of water management problems acting as a major setback. The genesis of these problems can be attributed to the vast inequalities in the temporal and spatial distribution of water in the region. As a consequence, most of the states of this region are victims to the same water – related issues, namely floods, droughts, dry season water scarcity, power insufficiency and pollution of the available water resources. Management of water resources in the region has become all the more challenging because of the huge population, the anticipated population growth and the prevailing poverty situation. About 10 per cent of the world’s population lives in this region that represents only 1.2 per cent of the world’s land mass. The development and management of the GBM basin has been subject to a number of geopolitical constraints that have led to a number of disputes that are among the notorious trans-boundary water related issues in the international arena. While Nepal covers only 13 per cent of 1.08 square kilometer area of the Ganges basin, this catchment contributes to 45% of the long – term average annual flow and 75% of the flow during driest months of the Ganges River basin (Upreti). Regional Cooperation in Water Resources

This section discusses the existing cooperation arrangements in the South Asian region before embarking exclusively into Indo – Nepal Water Resources relationship. India and Bangladesh share 54 rivers, however, Ganges Water Treaty is the only water sharing agreement that exists today between the two states. Even this treaty is not without the elements of discordance. India has constructed Farakka dam to solve siltation problem at Calcutta by...
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