Sunday, September 2, 2012

India’s Water Terrorism

I need to point out that this article is written from a Pakistani point of view. An article written by an Indian would have a different perspective.

Addressing a press conference in Muzaffarabad on Friday, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Qamar Zaman Kaira said: “If India launches any power project in disregard of a formula agreed with Pakistan, we will strongly resist it, besides challenging it in the International  Court of Justice (ICJ).” The construction of controversial hydropower projects by India on Pakistan’s share of river waters is indeed violation of Indus Water Treaty, but the government has not approached the International Court of Justice to check New Delhi’s plans to destroy the agriculture and economy of this country. Of course, Pakistan had taken the Baglihar and Kishanganga Hydropower Project to the World Bank, which appointed arbitrators to resolve those disputes. India had to make modifications on the verdict by the arbitrator. And now Pakistan is waiting for the verdict from theInternational Court of Arbitration (ICA), which is expected any time in this month. 

India continues with its sinister designs and water terrorism by making dams and reservoirs on Pakistani rivers in violation of Indus Water Treaty. Last year, India had released 80000 to 100000 causecs of water only 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 had 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 had destroyed the standing crops on a vast land comprising hundreds of hectares. 

In addition to the loss to the crops, thousands of stranded people had stayed under the open sky in most parts of Kasur district. 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. 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 River Jhelum, out of which 4 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 well thought-out strategy to render Pakistan’s link-canal system redundant, destroy agriculture of Pakistan, which is its mainstay, and turn Pakistan into a desert. Reportedly, India has plans to construct scores of hydroelectric units on Rivers Chenab and Jhelum, which will render these rivers dry by 2014. Using its clout in Afghanistan, India succeeded in convincing Karzai regime to build a dam on River Kabul and set up Kama Hydroelectric Project using 0.5MAF of Pakistan’s water. It offered technical assistance to Afghanistan for this project, which would have serious repercussions on the water flow in River Indus. Unfortunately, Pakistani leadership failed to construct large reservoirs during the last thirty years to meet the growing food requirements of ever-increasing population, which has exacerbated the situation. It has to be mentioned that conscientious leaders in other countries plan 50 to 100 years ahead to construct such projects. But Pakistan does not have that category of leaders.

Today, agricultural sector in Pakistan contributes 24 per cent to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP); two-third of population living in rural areas depends on it; absorbs more than 50 per cent of the labour force and provides the base for 75 per cent of exports in the form of raw materials and value-added products. India’s think-tanks have been working on river diversion plans with a view to creating acute water shortage in Pakistan, which could lead to shortage of wheat and other crops and also stoke inter-provincial conflicts in Pakistan over distribution of water. Last year, US Senate had released a report, which warned that the Indus Water Treaty may fail to avert water wars between India and Pakistan, acknowledging that dams India is building in occupied Kashmir will limit supply of water to Pakistan at crucial moments. Currently, the most controversial dam project is the proposed 330-megawatt dam on the Kishanganga River, a tributary of the Indus. And verdict by the ICA is expected any moment. 

In the past, there have been wars between many countries of the world over religions, usurpation of territories and control of resources including oil. 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 parts of Pakistan, ground water 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. Having all said, Pakistan must expedite the construction of Bhasha-Daimler project to overcome water and electricity shortages to keep the wheels of its industry moving.

By Mohammad

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