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


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.


. Renewable Energy Subsidy Policy”,2016 ( 2073 B.S.), [February 27, 2020]

. A. M. Shrestha. “Bleeding Mountains of Nepal, Ekta Books, Kathmandu, 1999, pg-157

. A.I. Payne, H.R. Sinha, S. Huq. A Review of the Ganges Basin: its fish and fisheries, “The Second International Symposium on the Management of Large Rivers for fisheries”, Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 11-14 February, 2003 (

. A.T.M.S. Huda. Constraints and opportunities for cooperation towards development of water resources in the Ganges Basin, In: A.K. Biswas & J.I. Uitto (Eds.) Sustainable Development of the Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Basins, 2001, pp: 46-57 (United Nations University Press, Tokyo).

. Asian Development Bank. Risk Assessment and Risk Management Plan: Energy Sector, 2017

. B. Carson. ICIMOD Occasion paper No. 1, “Erosion and Sedimentation process in the Nepalese Himalaya”, 1985.

. B. M. Abbas. The Ganges Water Dispute (University Press Limited, Dhaka), 1982

. B. Thapa., Sediment in Nepalese Hydropower Projects, Ph.D. Thesis, 2004

. B.C. Upreti. “Politics of Himalayan River Waters: An Analysis of the River Water Issues of Nepal, India and Bangladesh (Nirala Publications: New Delhi)”, 1993

. Bangladesh Ministry of Water Resources. Bangladesh Water and Flood Management Strategy: An Update Following the Signing of the Ganges Water-Sharing Treaty (Ministry of Water Resources, Dhaka), 1997

. British Broadcasting Corporation. Row over India River Scheme, Internet Edition, [August 13, 2003]

. C., K. Sharma. “Water and Energy Resources of the Himalayan Block, 1983, pg-439-444, 1983

. C.W. Sadoff & D. Grey. Beyond the River: the benefits of cooperation on international rivers, Water Policy, Vol.4, 2002, pp: 389-403: In M. M. Rahman. “Water vs. Power: Role of Dams in Geopolitics of Ganges Basin”, 2009

. D. N. Dhungel. “Regional Cooperation on the Ganges Basin: Yet a Mirage Giordano and Wolf ”, 2003, pg-167; 2013

. G. Rasul. “ICIMOD, Why Eastern Himalayan countries should cooperate in Trans boundary water resource management”, 2013

. G. Rasul. “Water for Growth and Development in the Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna Basins: An Economic Perspective”, 2015

. Government of Alberta (Canada), Agriculture and Rural Development “Hydroelectric power” 2010

. [0004.HFEIN] [March 21, 2020]

. I. R. Onta. Institute of Integrated Development Studies, 1997 [2001].

. I.R. Onta. Harnessing the Himalayan Waters of Nepal: A Case for Partnership for the Ganges Basin. 2001: In:M. M. Rahman. Water vs. Power: Role of Dams in Geopolitics of Ganges Basin, 2009

. IWLP. Official website of the International Water Law Project. Available at, 2008 [February 28, 2020]

. J.U. Ahmed, (Ed). “National Documentation on the Problems of Arsenic and Farakka (International Farakka Committee, Inc., New York)”, 2003

. K.M. Sthapit. “Sedimentation monitoring of Kulekhani reservoir, International Conference on reservoir sedimentation fort Collins Colorado, USA”, 1996

. L.H. Beach, J. Hamner, J.J. Hewitt, E. Kaufman, A. Kurki, J.A. Oppenheimer & A. Wolf, Transboundary Fresh water Dispute Resolution: Theory, Practice and Annotated References (Tokyo: United Nations University Press), 2000

. M. Lohani. Harnessing Nepal’s Water Resources in National Interest : A Book Review, Journal of the Nepal Council of World Affairs, Kathmandu, 2013

. M. M. Rahman. “Principles of Trans boundary Water Resources Management and Ganges Treaty: An Analysis”, 2009.

. M. M. Rahman. “The Ganges Water Conflict: A Comparative Analysis of 1977 Agreement and 1996 Treaty”, 2006

. M. M. Rahman. “Water vs. Power: Role of Dams in Geopolitics of Ganges Basin”, 2009

. N. Kilot, D. Shmueli & U. Shamir. 2001, Institutions for Management of Trans boundary Water Resources: their nature, characteristics and shortcomings, Water Policy, Vol. 3, 1992, pp: 229-255

. New Nation (2003). Ganges Flow Still Low, New Nation. Vol. 2, Number 830, Internet Edition, ( [February 23, 2020]

. P. C. Jagadish. Environment Resources: Negotiation between Unequal Powers, pg-42, 1996

. Q.K. Ahmad, A.K. Biswas, R. Rangachari & M.M. Sainju (Eds). Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Region: A Framework for Sustainable Development (University Press Limited, Dhaka), 2001

. R. Sharma, V. Mishra, “India and the Dynamics of World Politics”, 2011, p9-1179

. S. B. Pun. “Sharing of the Ganges Water-The Writings on the Wall, WECS Bulletin”, 1999

. S. Menta Jagat. "Opportunity Costs of Delay in Water Resource Management between Nepal, India and Bangladesh, in David). Eaton (ed) The Ganges Brahmaputra Basin, Lyndon. B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, Austin, 1992,p9-5).

. S. Tanzeema & I.M. Faisal. “Sharing the Ganges: A Critical Analysis of the Water Sharing Treaties, Water Policy”, Vol. 3, 2001, pp: 13-28

. S.B. Pun. “Overview: Conflicts over the Ganga in PSA, Disputes over the Ganga: A Look at Potential Water-related Conflicts in South Asia, Panos Institute South Asia, Kathmandu, Nepal”, 2004.

. S.K. Malla , S.K. Shrestha & M.M. Sainju, 2001, Nepal’s Water Vision and the GMB basin framework, in Ahmed, Q.K., Biswas, A.K., Rangachari, R. & Sainju, M.M.(Eds), 2001, Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna Region: A Framework for Sustainable Development, 2006, pp: 143-196 (University Press Limited, Dhaka).

. S.N. Poudel.. “Water Resources Utilization: Irrigation in Dwarika N Dhungel and Santa B Pun (Eds)”. The Nepal-India Water Resources Relationship: Challenges, 2009

. T. Upreti. “International watercourses law and its application in South Asia, Kathmandu: Pairavi Prakashan”, 2006

. Tanzeemas and Faijal, 2000; I.M., 2000; I.R. Onta. 2000 and A.K. Biswas. 2000 ; A. B. Thapa 1999, 2011, “The Mahakali Treaty and Existing Water Uses Issue”. WECS Bulletin, 1999

. WECS, Water and Energy Commission Secretariat, Nepal, 2002

. World Bank. “Ganges Strategic Basin Assessment: A Discussion of Regional Opportunities and Risks”, 2014

. World Energy Council, World Energy, Resources & Hydropower, 2016

. Z. Ahmad. “Water development potential within a basin wide approach: Ganges-Brahmaputra-Meghna (GBM) Issues”, 2004