India’s water terrorism exposed

India’s water terrorism exposed

Mohammad Jamil

The International Court of Arbitration (ICA) on Saturday issued an interim order, restraining India from going ahead with the controversial hydro power project over river Kishanganga in Gurez area of occupied Kashmir. Under the ICA order, India will not construct a permanent structure over River Neelum/Kishanganga that may affect the flow of water downstream, the spokesman said. Pakistan had lodged a complaint in the court of arbitration that Indian bid to build Kishanganga dam was violation of World Bank brokered Indus Water Treaty of 1960. The spokesman further clarified that Pakistan had sought from India an undertaking for construction in the light of international law, which the latter had rejected. Pakistan had then gone to the ICA, which now issued the interim order on the issue restraining India from dam construction. With the ICA’s stay order, Pakistan will have the time to expedite the construction of large reservoirs so that India does not claim the right to use water if Pakistan is not constructing any dams. Thus India is trying to make IWT ineffective. India on the one hand is restricting water flow by building dams on Pakistani rivers, and on the other hand releases water in its rivers, which inundated hundreds of Pakistani villages. Only last month, India released 80,000 to 100,000 cusecs of water after its dams were filled and could no longer accommodate additional water. On 16th August 2011, India spilled more than 70,000 cusecs of additional water into River Sutlej without prior information to Pakistani authorities, inundating dozens of villages in Ganda Singhwala area of Kasur district, which caused billions of rupees loss to the farmers of the area. Water experts say that New Delhi, in sheer violation of the Indus Water Treaty, released more than 70,000 cusecs of water into River Sutlej at Pakistani side, which mounted its level to an alarming extent and washed away dozens of villages in Kasur after creating an emergency flood situation in the entire area. Agriculturists suffered as the floods destroyed the standing crops on a vast land comprising hundreds of hectares. Officials said that thousands of stranded people were lying under the open sky in most parts of Kasur district waiting to receive any emergency aid from the authorities concerned. Over 170 villages along the Ravi are also evacuated every year while the local administration is put on high alert in Narowal and Sialkot districts to cope with any emergency. It is worth mentioning that during the Pak-India parleys held in March and May 2010, India had agreed to install telemetry system on the rivers in its territory to check real-time water flow. But later, New Delhi backtracked from its promises vis-à-vis issues raised by Islamabad. In such an eventuality, the question remains, how insidiously India is violating the Indus Water Teary (IWT-1960) by diverting the river courses. In the second week of August 2011, the experts said: “We have credible reports that India during this season is going to release about 200,000-cusec additional water in the Rivers Ravi, Sutlej, Jhelum and Chenab”. Meanwhile, this high flow of water has washed away thousands of villages in Punjab province. Experts say that on one hand India is stealing Pakistani water by building dams on rivers flowing into Pakistan from Occupied Kashmir, whereas on the other hand New Delhi deflects river-courses during monsoon season to release floodwater towards Pakistani side. According to reports, India is constructing many dams on Jhelum River, out of which four big and 16 small dams have started functioning. India is constructing the third largest dam of the world in Kargil on River Indus, which will block 45 % flow of water to Pakistan.This is being done under a well thought-out strategy to render Pakistan’s link-canal system redundant, destroy agriculture, which is its mainstay, and turn Pakistan into a desert. India has plans to construct 62 dams/hydro-electric units on Rivers Chenab and Jhelum; thus enabling it to render these rivers dry by 2014. Using its clout in Afghanistan, India has succeeded in convincing Karzai regime to build a dam on River Kabul and set up Kama Hydroelectric Project using 0.5MAF of Pakistan water. It has offered technical assistance to Kabul for the proposed project, which will have serious repercussions on the water flow in River Indus. Apart from India’s river diversion plan, Pakistanis leadership also failed to construct large reservoirs during the last thirty years to meet the growing food requirements of ever-increasing population, which exacerbated the situation. It has to be mentioned that conscientious leaders in other countries plan 50 to 100 years ahead to construct such projects. In this backdrop, it was criminal negligence of various governments since 1970 that they did not plan any large reservoir. And only the province reached consensus on Bhasha Dam since then.In the past, there have been wars between many countries of the world over religions, usurpation of territories and control of resources including oil, but in view of acute shortages of water in Africa, Middle East, Asia and elsewhere, the future wars could be fought over water. In addition to Kashmir dispute, the Indus River Basin has been an area of conflict between India and Pakistan for about four decades. Spanning 1,800 miles, the river and its tributaries together make up one of the largest irrigation canals in the world. Dams and canals built in order to provide hydropower and irrigation have dried up stretches of the Indus River. In fact, it is the responsibility of the international community to urge India to honour its commitment under the treaty. And this is the only way to avoid war. With the climate change and as a consequence shrinking water availability across the Middle East, Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, violent conflict between states is increasingly likely. It has been estimated by the experts that by 2025, more than two billion people are expected to live in countries that find it difficult or impossible to mobilize the water resources needed to meet the needs of agriculture, industry and households. Population growth, urbanization and the rapid development of manufacturing industries are relentlessly increasing demand for finite water resources. Symptoms of the resulting water stress are increasingly visible. In northern China, rivers now run dry in their lower reaches for much of the year. In parts of Pakistan and India, groundwater levels are falling so rapidly that from 10 percent to 20 percent of agricultural production is under threat. Shortage of power has also adversely impacted our economy, as electricity is not available to make up the shortfall of water through the use of tube wells especially when underground water table has receded. Pakistan must expedite the construction of Bhasha-Diamer project to overcome water and electricity shortages to keep the wheels of its industry running. There is indeed a need to make more projects to meet the requirements of the increased population for food and electricity.

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