Wa­ter Pol­icy in Pak­istan

The Diplomatic Insight - - Opinion - *Asma Yaqoob 25

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.

*Thewriter­works­forIn­sti­tu­te­ofRe­gion­alS­tud­ies,Is­lam­abad.

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