India interest in Nepal water resources

The world’s second richest country in inland water resources with as many as 6000 rivers, rivulets and tributaries, Nepal can meet not just its own electricity needs, but also serve energy hungry neighbors like Bangladesh and India.

Nepal’s water resources must be utilized to create jobs and improve its economy. Huge future returns are associated with today’s risks. With the own demand for electricity growing at 9% annually, with the desire to be energy-independent country, It is time that both local and international players shall join hands to tackle the challenges ahead of the industry.

Two South Asian neighbours have entered into a number of agreements/treaties in water resources, namely, Sarada Agreement (1920), Kosi Agreement (1954), Gandak Agreement (1959) and Mahakali Treaty (1996). Nepal is criticized within the country for being unable to secure its benefits, and that all the agreements are in India’s favour.

However, the Indian side claims that overpoliticization of water issues in Nepal is the reason for not achieving the benefits from these agreements. Since the Mahakali Treaty, there has been deadlock in Nepal–India water cooperation as the implementation of the treaty has not materialized even after more than two decades since its ratification.

Therefore, all the forms of cooperation in the past between Nepal and India can be viewed as the consequence of hydro-hegemony rather than mutuality. The article concludes that both nations need to move forward to create mutual trust for the equitable utilization of water resources, as there is huge potential for constructive cooperation.

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