THE HYDROLOGICAL CHALLENGE
to almost every project undertaken by India. “They are a one-river nation. If you stop the Indus, there is nothing there,” says a former bureaucrat.
“If you try to stop the waters of Pakistan, you will escalate the conflict to a very serious level,” General Musharraf said, warning of ‘nuclear war’ in an interview to television on September 27.
Pakistan is finding even the existing award of nearly 80 per cent of the Indus waters insufficient. On March 8 this year, Pakistan’s upper house, the Senate, passed a resolution urging the government to review the IWT by inserting new provisions enabling Pakistan to get more water. A minor reduction in the supply of water to Pakistan could have catastrophic effects on the agriculture-dependent country.
Water paranoia has caused it to repeatedly challenge even ‘run of the river’ dams allowed by the IWT and built by India. In the last such verdict in January 2014, the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague arbitrated in India’s favor on the issue of the Kishanganga hydroelectric power project near Bandipore in J&K.
“Our diplomatic initiative is to separate the people of Pakistan from jehadi elements. Stopping water could prove counter-productive because it will actually fan anti-India sentiment within Pakistan,” says Uttam Kumar Sinha of the defence ministry-run think-tank, the Institute of Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA). If the government is to make good on its promise of creating massive storage facilities to store its share of the Indus river, it will need to create roughly the equivalent of one-third of India’s largest reservoir, the Indirasagar on the Narmada (9.8 lakh acre feet). This promises to be an uphill task going by the glacial pace of big dam construction in India, the huge costs involved and the displacement of people. Experts say it will be at least a decade before solutions like the completion of the three dams on Chenab bear fruit.
Agricultural economist Sucha Singh Gill from the Chandigarh-based