Rivers of Conflict or Rivers of Peace: Water Sharing between India and China

  • Prof. Pranab Kumar Ray

Prof. Pranab Kumar Ray (Director, Centre for Hydro-Meteorological Research, Kolkata) scrutinises the need for water sharing between India and China, dispels misconceptions and provides a framework for an Integrated Basin Water Management system.

All natural elements of the Earth's system are limited by their presence in space and time. This applies particularly to clean water, critical for growth and survival. Availability of water is slowly reducing and will be more erratic in the near future when demand for it will very likely surpass availability in time and space. Sovereign states in all probability will move towards intense utilisation of their territorially defined water resources, leaving little for downstream neighbours. This scenario is appearing to be ominously true in the transboundary river basins of South Asia. It is therefore worthwhile to scrutinise water sharing between India and China. The Indus and
Tsangpo-Brahmaputra river systems, along with the upper Kosi and the Karnali, are central in this regard.
India and China can put to planning and management a vast amount of water between them. An amicable arrangement of water utilisation and their basin-wise integrated management will bring economic success to both countries. A friendly settlement relating to water resources of trans-boundary river systems is urgently needed between India, China and their neighbours Nepal, Pakistan, Bhutan and Bangladesh. India and China are the two major stakeholders for water resources of South Asia and can help uplift the economies of these smaller countries. The two
can show the way forward for friendly integrated water management and develop unique precedents of rational practices for mutual upliftment through sharing and peaceful use of water.

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