Saturday, March 20, 2010

Water manipulation

By Tariq Mian         (updated regularly)
The Indian strategy of building dams on rivers flowing into Pakistan shows an absolute disregard for the water treaties between the two countries.
Pakistan depends on the rivers originating from India and Indian occupied Kashmir.  One hundred and two projects have been launched by India to divert the water of three rivers coming to Pakistan from held Kashmir and Kargil. The said Indian projects, aimed at controlling the water of Chenab, Jhelum and Indus rivers, are illegal.

Unfairly, India managed to take control of Pakistan’s ‘lifeblood’ through annexation of Kashmir. Manipulation of water by India dates back to 1948, when India used the water weapon resulting an intervention by US President Truman.
However, under 1960 Indus Water Treaty, India is forbidden from tampering with western rivers. As per the Treaty, three eastern rivers (Ravi, Beas, Sutlej) were given to India and three western rivers (Indus, Jhelum, Chenab) were given to Pakistan. Yet, last minute hurriedly amended Treaty unfairly favoured India by allowing another 1.343 million acres (2.85 MAF) irrigation from western rivers. Unfortunately, water for Pakistan was not quantified at that moment.

Presently, Pakistan’s excessive nervousness is genuine as water available for it-- has been drastically cut --from 5,000 cubic meters per capita in 1950s-- to 1000 cubic meter in 2010.
India has already seized 70 % of water from the Chenab and Jhelum rivers. As a result, over 0.9 million acres, being irrigated through the Marala Headworks, are actually presenting the look of Thar and Cholistan.

It is forseen that without water-- 20 million acres of fertile Pakistani land is likely to become barren.

In fact, India can devestate Pakistan just by strangulating river flows. Lower riparian Pakistan suffers a lot mainly due to the selfish attitude of upper riparian India and is constantly at the mercy of unfriendly neighbour.
Indian water manipulation/violation at the critical time of 'rabi crops' each year is highly thought provoking, as it hurts our bread and butter causing a loss of Rs 140 billion annually to Pakistan by seizing its water at the Baglihar Dam. It is feared that India would soon stop the water flow of Chenab and Jhelum rivers, turning 18 districts of the Punjab and six districts of Sindh into a desert.The scariest scenario is that India is constructing a huge storage facility over the Chenab river in Indian held Kashmir (IHK) at a cost of $120-$200 billion --to be completed by 2016.

India is also building dozens of projects on the western rivers including the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab rivers. Nevertheless, the primary focus of Indian policy is to get ‘Power-Generation’ potential from the Chenab river to produce 4,000 MW -more or less.

Bursar Project is a storage facility in which the flow of water can be ‘regulated’ not only to the benefit of this project but all downstream projects including Baglihar, Pakal Dul, Rattle, Dul Hasti, Sawalkot and Salal Hydroelectric Projects. The site is located near village Hanzal in Doda District of J&K on river Marusudar which is one of the major right bank tributary of river Chenab. Bursar Dam (252 meter height) is intended to be used for additional power generation during lean flow months and releasing regulated flow in downstream. The height of proposed Diamer-Basha Dam is 270 meter. Another big project is Sawalkot Hydro project with a focus on components like dam and tunnel location. The project is proposed to be a run-of-river plant on river Chenab, located upstream of the already finished Salal Hydro electric Power project and downstream of Baglihar project.

Other projects include Kishenganga on Jhelum (330MW), Parnai on Jhelum (37.5MW), New Ganderbal on Jhelum (93MW), Baglihar-II on Chenab (450MW), Lower Kalnai on Chenab (50MW), Kirthai-I on Chenab (240MW), Kiru on Chenab (600MW), Kawar on Chenab (520MW), Ujh Multipurpose Project on Ravi (280MW).
The violation of IWT poses a real threat ahead as it is likely to trigger 'water wars' in the region. Although, Pakistan accurately measures the flows of water-from India-and thereby substantiate its claims, but all in vain. India on the other hand, snatches our share of water, while Pakistan behaves like a closed eyed pigeon.
Just imagine! if India gains control of  western rivers of the Indus basin and shuts off Pakistan's water completely,  the defence will be jeopardized because the 'canal irrigation system' also provides  the best security to Pakistan against any ground military aggression.

Moreover, the disturbing factor of global warming is adversely affecting our agriculture, the current backbone of the national economy and rural livelihood. Water shortage is causing a friction among the provinces within Pakistan as well. However, the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) created by the inter-provincial Water Accord of 1991-- regulates the waters among the provinces.

Beyond any doubt, there is a great deal of need for stronger cooperation to preserve and develop water resources, yet 'environment of distrust' makes it difficult to tackle the alarming situation.
As Pakistan is fast transforming into a water scarce country, a large number of water related measures including storages, conservation, improved management and most importantly an early construction of KALABAGH dam is vital to ward off major national crisis.

Better late than never, Water and Power Development Authority's recent undertaking to construct 32 small and medium sized dams to improve water availability is commendable. It is also important that Like 'International Water Day,'-- 'National Water Day' is desperately needed to educate everyone about the challenges and future strategies to deal with the crisis.
However, Indian violations by obstructing, stopping or diverting the river flows must be stopped as Pakistan’s water rights cannot be compromised.
Most of all, as the 1960 Treaty does not envision the impact of climate change; contains 'inherent defects' which are severely detrimental to Pakistan’s survival,  hence there is an urgent need to revise the treaty for equitable advantage to both India and Pakistan.

The writer is an independent analyst based in Canada

Readers' feedback is appreciated


Anonymous said...

ISLAMABAD: Syed Jamaat Ali Shah, former commissioner of Pakistan Commission of Indus Water, whose name was put on the Exit Control List after it was established that he had helped and facilitated India in building a hydropower project on Pakistan’s Indus River, inflicting huge damage to the country’s water interests, has escaped to Canada.

According to Additional Secretary Hamid Ali, it was established in the report prepared by Mohammad Imtiaz Tajwar, Secretary Wapda, that Syed Jamaat Ali Shah did not play his due role and remained silent about the Nimoo Bazgo Hydropower Project (built by India during 2002- 2009) and did not raise any objections during the Pak-India meetings at the level of Permanent Indus Commission of Indus Waters.

Anonymous said...

It is surprising that Shah has managed to dodge the concerned authorities and is now in Canada, a senior official requesting anonymity told The News. This correspondent made several attempts to contact the federal minister for water and power to know how Jamaat Ali Shah had managed to escape, but his cell phone remained unattended.

The 57-meter-high Nimoo-Bazgo hydroelectric project is being developed in the Leh District on the Indus River. Additionally, 42-meter high Chuttak hydroelectric project is also being completed on the Suru River, a tributary of Indus in the Kargil district of Indian-held Kashmir.

Anonymous said...

The said projects will reduce the flows of Indus River, the lifeline of Pakistan. The said dams can store water up to 120,000,000 cubic metres. India has also managed to get approval of carbon credits amounting to $482,083 in seven years ($68,869 per year) fromthe UN for the two projects after showing that it has got the clearance report on trans-boundary environmental impact assessment of the said projects from Pakistan. But the ministry failed to find out who granted clearance. All it did was framing the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) so that such negligence could be avoided in future.

The water and power ministry had earlier initiated a probe as to how India managed to construct the two projects, particularly Nimoo Bazgo project, and why the Pakistan Commission of Indus water failed to take proper measures under the Indus Waters Treaty to stop its construction.

Anonymous said...

On the basis of its report, the ministry has withheld the pension of Mr Shah who retired just before the finalisation of the report, a copy of which is available with The News. Jamaat Ali Shah retired on September 30, 2011 and the report was submitted on September 23, 2011.

The most alarming aspect of the report is that the PCIW team never visited the project before and during the construction period of the project.

The official claimed that India had informed Mr Jamaat Ali Shah about the Nimoo Bazgo project 6 months before the initiation of its construction. At that time Syed Jamaat Ali Shah had objected to the design of the project as being against the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty.

According to the report, Military Intelligence (MI) Directorate had informed the government on June 6, 2005 that India was planning to construct the Nimoo-Bazgo hydroelectric project, which would be completed by 2010. The report also divulged that Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) further informed the government on July 25 2005 that the Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has visited Leh, Kargil and Siachen Glacier on June 11, 2005 and laid the foundation stone of Nimoo-Bazgo and Chutak hydroelectric power plants. Similarly, the ISI on September 7, 2005 shared information about the visit of the Indian prime minister to Siachen and Kargil.

Anonymous said...

The report also reveals that the PCIW headed by Syed Jamaat Ali Shah remained silent during 2007,2008,2009 about the project. But surprisingly it started pursuing the project vigorously at all levels when it was known that it would be impossible to change the design of the project after its completion. By that time it was too late for any court or neutral expert to give decision against the project.

A water expert Arshad H Abbasi associated with SDPI claims it was he who pointed out that Mr Shah did not visit the site of the Nimoo-Bazgo and let India complete the project and to this effect he wrote many letters to the prime minister. He also said that Mr Riaz A Khan, then advisor to ministry of water and power, who is no longer associated with the ministry is also involved in helping India clinch the carbon credits from the UN.

According to sources, Mr Kamal Majidullah, special assistant to prime minister on water also played a role in implicating Mr Jamaat Ali Shah in the Nimoo-Bazgo case. Mr Shah says that in July last year (2010) he recommended to Kalam Majidullah to move court of arbitration (CoA) against India for building Numoo-Bazgo, which is not in line with Indus Waters Treaty, but the authorities concerned remained unmoved.


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