Gush­ing on Pak­istan’s wa­ter

Pakistan Observer - - EDITORIAL & COMMENTS - Reema Shaukat

se­ri­ous wa­ter short­ages for the Pak­istan. Be­fore in­de­pen­dence Bri­tish con­structed canal sys­tem to ir­ri­gate the area which is now mod­ern day Pak­istan. Par­ti­tion left that sys­tem de­pen­dent on In­dia for sup­ply of wa­ter to Pak­istan. Ac­cord­ing to In­dus Wa­ter Treaty, wa­ter that flows into river In­dus will be shared be­tween the two coun­tries but as the trib­u­taries of In­dus River orig­i­nate in In­dia, it is al­ways play­ing pol­i­tics on dis­tri­bu­tion of wa­ter to Pak­istan. Be­fore In­dus Wa­ter Treaty, dis­tri­bu­tion of wa­ter was made on an ad hoc ba­sis. Fol­low­ing the treaty us­age of three eastern off­shoots of rivers Sut­lej, Beas and Ravi were given to In­dia while three west­ern rivers trib­u­taries Chenab, Jhelum and the In­dus were ap­proved for Pak­istan. All of these six rivers flow through Kash­mir which is bone of con­tention be­tween two South Asian neigh­bours. Pak­istan there­fore de­pends on In­dia for its wa­ter se­cu­rity.

Pak­istan is con­cerned by In­dian plans of mak­ing hy­dro power projects in In­dian oc­cu­pied Kash­mir. Ac­cord­ing to Pak­istan, In­dia vi­o­lated the terms and con­di­tions of In­dus Wa­ter Treaty many times by con­struct­ing dams and plan­ning of more con­struc­tion of hy­dro power projects thereby gain­ing full con­trol on the wa­ters of west­ern rivers. In­dia in or­der to sab­o­tage Pak­istan eco­nom­i­cally of­ten gen­er­ates wa­ter projects de­spite set­tle­ments through In­dus Wa­ter Treaty.

In 1984 In­dia started build­ing Wullar Bar­rage on River Jhelum in IHK. In mid 90s In­dia again vi­o­lated IWT by con­struc­tion of Bagh­liar Dam on River Chenab.In 2005, Pak­istan pur­sued the World Bank’s help to stop con­struc­tion of the Bagli­har dam. Although WB al­lowed In­dia to go ahead with the ven­ture af­ter a few ad­just­ments, yet it did not li­cense the in­ter­rup­tion of the agreed quota of wa­ter flow to Pak­istan. In­dian de­ci­sion to con­struct two hy­dro power projects called Kis­hanganga on River Neelum are again vi­o­la­tion of In­dus Wa­ter Treaty. In­dia is tak­ing un­due ad­van­tage in con­struc­tion of Ksi­hanganga and Ra­tle hy­dro power projects on west­ern trib­u­taries.

In­dus Wa­ter Com­mis­sion has also raised con­cerns on con­struc­tion of dams by In­dia in oc­cu­pied ter­ri­tory of Kash­mir. In­dian is gain­ing favour on Kis­hanganga project (330MW)which is at fi­nal stage of con­struc­tion. This dam is de­signed to di­vert wa­ter from the Kis­hanganga River to a power plant in the River Jhelum basin and lo­cated 5km north of Bandi­pore in Oc­cu­pied Kash­mir.Ra­tle project (850MW) is lo­cated at River Chenab and it would take one and half year for com­ple­tion. If In­dia man­ages to con­struct Ra­tle project on river Chenab, it is go­ing to pose se­ri­ous threat to ir­ri­ga­tion in Pun­jab and Sindh province­sof Pak­istan. Ra­tle project is de­signed in a way that it is go­ing to re­duce flow of River Chenab by 40 per­cent at the site of head Mar­ala.

In­dia has plans to gen­er­ate 22,000MW from rivers in Oc­cu­pied Kash­mir till 2022. So far In­dia is ahead of Pak­istan in con­struct­ing dams. It has built 330 MW project of Dal­hasti, 450 MW project on Bagh­liar and now near com­ple­tion are its Kis­hanganga and Ra­tle hy­dropower projects. On River Neelum that joins the Jehlum River in Pak­istan, In­dia com­pleted Uri-1, UriII hy­dropower projects. Apart from these big projects it also made Nimmo Bazgo and Chat­tak hy­dropower projects in oc­cu­pied area. Pak­istan has also raised con­cern on three other projects of In­dia on River Chenab which in­clude Paka Dul, a project of 1,000 MW, Mi­yar 120 MW and Lower Kal­nai project of 48MW.

Some­how it is ob­served that Pak­istani au­thor­i­ties and of­fi­cials are not show­ing se­ri­ous­ness on In­dian de­signs of Wa­ter ter­ror­ism against Pak­istan. This at­ti­tude will def­i­nitely en­cour­age In­dia for its moves against Pak­istan and will ef­fect Pak­istan’s stance on wa­ter re­sources badly. The de­lay in mak­ing ap­proach to World Bank to re­solve dis­pute be­tween two coun­tries and ask­ing for ap­point­ment of neu­tral party is fa­vor­ing In­dia and Pak­istan los­ing its po­si­tion. There­fore there is a need to make ur­gent call to con­cern au­thor­i­ties so that In­dia be stopped from mov­ing for­ward on con­struc­tion of dams on Pak­istan’s share of wa­ter.

In­dus Wa­ter Com­mis­sion it­self has raised con­cerns on con­struc­tion of dams by In­dia and termed it as vi­o­la­tion to In­dus Wa­ter Treaty. It also an­nounced ar­bi­trary party to re­solve dis­pute but lazi­ness is seen on be­half of Pak­istani of­fi­cials. There is a dire need that Pak­istan should take stand on its wa­ter re­sources as soon as pos­si­ble so that In­dia be stopped from wa­ter ter­ror­ism. Pak­istan must also work on steady ba­sis to con­struct more dams to over­come prob­lems re­lated to wa­ter scarcity and power gen­er­a­tion. — The writer works for Pak­istan In­sti­tute for Con­flict and Se­cu­rity Stud­ies, a think tank based in Islamabad.

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