Water Policy in Pakistan
We as a nation attach extra importance to those things which otherwise lack substance. The media has been outraging since last few years over Indian attempts to violate the Indus Water Treaty by constructing a series of hydro power plants on the Western rivers of the Indus Basin in Jammu& Kashmir. We have neither utilized hydropower potential of those rivers flowing through Kashmir nor we have fought our case to defend the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) in the eyes of the world and Kashmiris who blame the IWTfor power shortages in J&K. Ignoring these issues of significance, the Ministry of Water and Power is all busy in blaming each other for the Indian construction of Nimoo Bazgo hydro power plantwhich is said to manipulate waters of the Indus River downstream Gilgit-Baltistan. The under-construction Nimoo Bazgo plant of India is a 57 metre high concrete dam on Indus River in Leh district of J&K. The project start date is 2 August 2014. Pakistan has serious objections to the Plant design as it will reduce water for irrigating needs in her northern areas. As the talks remained unsuccessful to convince India to change the design of the said project, internal feuds got developed in our Ministry ofWater and Power instead of following a legal course of action. When India is all set to continue with controversial hydro power projects in J&K, we are debating the reported flee of Syed Jamaat Ali Shah, former Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Water to Canada, who was earlier sacked for not being able to stop the Indian construction of Nimoo Bazgo hydro power plant on River Indus in Leh district of Jammu and Kashmir has become the centerpiece of newsmakers in the country. First of all, it is completely untrue that Jamaat Ali Shah has never raised any objections to the Indian construction of Nimoo Bazgo power plant as reported by the SecretaryWapda. According to the Indian news sources, Shah during his February 2010 meeting with India's IndusWater Treaty (IWT) CommissionerAranga Nathan in Lahore has asked India to provide details of all ongoing water projects on the Indus River in the Kashmir region and allow its officials to inspect the sites. As reported by Deccan Herald dated 31 May 2010, during Permanent Indus Commission Meeting (PIC) in Delhi in May 2010, Shah told his Indian counterpart G Aranga Nathan that Islamabad would ask for determination by neutral experts for Nimoo Bazgo Hydro-Electric Project of India if New Delhi did not act to address its concerns over the power plant. The removal of Shah was followed by internal clashes between SherazMemon the new IndusWater Commissioner and Kamal Majeedullah- special assistant to the Prime Minister on Water andAgriculture. Now the news appeared in the media that the PMhas allowed tomove International Court of Justice (ICA) to seek stay order against theNimooBazgo Project of India. The point of focus here is the apathy on the part of our politicians and ministers to safeguard due national interests. We need to defend our rights as given in the Indus Water Treaty through an action-oriented policy framework. The present power crisis in J&K is not due to IWT but the Indian Government being unable to pay due royalty to the Kashmiris. Even if all the hydro power potential gets tapped by the Indian Government in J&K, much of it will get exported to other regions in India. An action-oriented policy framework within the ambit of IWT requires us to adopt a fast pace in maximising our hydro power resources. All the reported and unreported delays in addition to financial mismanagement must be closely scrutinised for all proposed and under-construction hydro-power projects. The IWT stipulates a simple rule that a country which completes its project first gets priority rights over the river`s water. We seems to lose our case for Neelum-Jhelum Hydro power Project inAzad Kashmir on River Jhelum although we have won a stay order against the Indian construction of Kishanganaga project in J&K over same river. The Neelum-Jhelum project (NJP), originally due for completion in July 2010, was scheduled to achieve commercial operations by October 2015 as per contractual terms. Now a minimum of another 2 years delay is estimated at this stage. The strategic project, original plan of which was approved by the Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (Ecnec) has been delayed so much, coupled with increased cost that it would perhaps not be anymore economically viable power generation unit on completion. Moreover, the NJP project of Pakistan has achieved little progress as compared to India which has completed 40 per cent progress. We need to learn from Indiawhich is developing her hydro power capacity on a fast-track basis. Hydropower development in India accounts for a quarter of total power generation higher than the world average. India has also been able to get international financial support by buying carbon credits for her so-called carbon emissions reduction projects from the UNFCC (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change). The environmental experts criticise Indian Government for submitting crooked reports in order to sale the projects for carbon emissions reduction certificates. However India has continued her pace of development for augmenting country's hydro power generation capacity. According to the statistics of International Rivers, India (180 projects) is the third country after China (1066) and Japan (234) in Asia to have a lead in hydro power CDM(Clean DevelopmentMechanism) project deployment, out of which 65 are registered for CDM. Whereas Pakistan has only 2 projects registered for CDM and applied for nearly 34 which are in pipeline for implementation. Many environmentalists call CDM a fraudulent system, which is another full subject to deal with. Questions are here raised for reasons behind an apathetic attitude of our policy makers in developing Pakistan's hydro power generation capacity. For how long we will continue to criticise India for manipulating our share ofwater without giving any consideration for utilising that by ourselves? Why we have adopted a wait and see policy is jeopardizing our natural resources? Why do we forget that being a lower riparian, our safety lies in scheming trans-boundary waters of Indus Basin through infrastructure and development rather than using the pretext of Indus Water Treaty every time to abstain India from manipulating our share of water? The policy makers need to comprehend that the time is changing for environment, for resources and for every thing. Forget India --- please think about climate change induced variations in Indus Basin. Even the IWT will not be able to safeguard our water resources in times of globalwarming and glacial melt induced changes in river flows.