Framework of Win-Win Regional Cooperation for Water and Energy Security in the Ganges Basin

  • Tejaswi Sharma Kathamndu, Nepal, 00977
Keywords: Ganges Basin, trans-boundary, win-win, regional cooperation, water and energy security, Nepal, India, Bangladesh, landlocked, navigational rights

Abstract

Having water storage potential of about 88 billion cubic metre (bcm), Nepal, contributes more than 40% of the total flow and over 70% of the flow of the Ganges with the main feeders being- Mahakali,  Karnali, Gandak and Koshi water basins. Regarding trans-boundary water resources management, cooperation between the riparian countries is a must. Nepal, being at the north, is the major controller of the headworks of the Ganges and bilateral agreements have been made by India separately with Nepal and Bangladesh through signing and ratification of different treaties. Hence, Nepal, India and Bangladesh are the main riparian countries among which cooperation is needed with regard to Ganges Basin. The trans-boundary water management principles and relevant articles of International Conventions/Agreements are the basic ground/footing for any bilateral/tripartite treaties. Till date, six bilateral agreements (treaties and three Memoranda of Understandings) have been signed between the riparian countries. Among these, Sharada Barage Treaty (1920), Koshi Treaty (1954 later amended on 1966), Gandak Treaty (1959 later amended on 1964), Mahakali Treaty (Tanakpur and Pancheswor, 1996) were signed between Nepal and India whereas Farakka Treaty (1977) for sharing of Ganges water at Farakka augmenting its flow and Farakka Treaty (1996) for sharing of Ganges water was signed between India and Bangladesh. The social, economic and environmental necessities of the riparian countries could be easily met vide the coordinated and collaborative development of Ganges Basin depending on the total volume of water that it has. Benefits to the river, benefits from the river, reduction of costs because of the river and benefits beyond the river are among those which could be beneficially achieved from the Ganges Basin. The sustainable management and development of the Ganges Basin’s Resources is a must which has been presented in the paper within the boundary of 10 questions. Regarding Ganges Basin development, all three riparian countries have their own perspective. Bangladesh feels Ganges as the reliable source to bridge the gap of severe water shortage that has been her major excruciation in the past. India’s diplomacy is in developing inter-basin transfer of water from Bhramaputra (having untapped abundant water) to the Ganges Basin through a link canal to minimize flood hazards. Nepal’s first and foremost prospicience from the Ganges is harnessing the huge hydropower potential for fulfilling her domestic/industrial demands and selling the surplus energy to India and Bangladesh. Nepal have been struggling for her continued efforts for the lawful rights and benefits but yet unadmitted from the Ganges Basin is the fulfillment of her water demands, being at the upstream, with construction of large dam projects and share water resources from the snowcapped Himalayas for the collective benefit of all the people residing within the region. Another difficulty that Nepal is facing is the landlocked obligation for which she should have freely exercised the navigation rights but is deprived of. Barcelona Convention of 1921 and the United Nations Convention on Law of Seas (UNCLOS) clearly advert the navigation rights of landlocked country, according to which shall have right of access to and from the sea for the freedom of transit through the territory of transit state without any custom duties, taxes or other charges except those in connection with traffic. Hence, for the integrated balanced development of the Ganges Basin, trilateral dialogues/treaties involving Nepal, India and Bangladesh is a must which would inevitably cater for “win-win” situation to all the concerned stakeholders.

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Published
2020-06-03
Section
Articles