Indus Water Treaty

India decides to 'exploit fully' water of Pakistan-controlled rivers

Indus-Water-Treaty Prime Minister Narendra Modi chairing the meeting on Indus Water Treaty in New Delhi on Monday | PTI

As India decided to revisit the 56-year-old Indus Waters Treaty with Pakistan in the wake of the Uri army camp terror attack, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday bluntly said that "blood and water cannot flow together".

The government also decided there would no meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission set up to overlook the implementation of the treaty till "terror is in the air", and that India would take a final call on the unilateral part of the suspension of the Tulbul water navigation project in Jammu and Kashmir depending on what Pakistan did next.

The two major steps were decided upon at a meeting of senior officials chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi.

The meeting also decided that an inter-ministerial commission would be set up to look into various provisions of the bilateral water treaty that was signed in Karachi on September 19,1960, out of Pakistan's fear that since the source of rivers of the Indus basin is in India, it could potentially create droughts and famines in Pakistan during times of war.

The meeting was attended, among others, by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, Water Resources Secretary Shashi Shekhar and Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Nripendra Mishra.

"Blood and water cannot flow together," official sources quoted Modi as having said during the meeting.

The attack at Uri on September 18 claimed the lives of 18 soldiers and India has blamed the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terrorist outfit for it. The attack came amid large-scale violence in Jammu and Kashmir in which 90 lives have been lost in the wake of the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen terrorist Burhan Wani.

The officials' meeting on Monday decided to look at the full utilisation of the waters of the Indus, Chenab and Jhelum, the three western rivers of the Indus water system that flow through Jammu and Kashmir.

Around 95 per cent of the waters of the three eastern rivers of Sutlej, Beas and Ravi is being ustilised by India.

Signed after 10 years of discussions, the Indus Waters Treaty was designed to generate goodwill between the two South Asian neighbours and has survived three wars.

The meeting on Monday, according to the sources, decided that with things being "rather difficult" with Pakistan in the past few weeks, India should revisit the treaty.

It was also decided that there would be no meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission that oversees the implementation of the treaty, till Pakistan stopped sponsoring terrorism against India. The commission has held 112 meetings till now at an average of two a year.

According to the sources, the government will look into reviving work on the Tulbul water navigation project on the mouth of the Wular Lake in Jammu and Kshmir.

Work on the project was suspended in 1987 after Pakistan objected to it, saying it violated the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty.

The inter-ministerial commission that will be set up will be tasked with reaping maximum benefits from the Indus water system for farmers.

At present 9.12 lakh hectares of land has been harvested with these waters in India, the sources said and added that there was potential to harvest eight lakh acres more.

Though India as of now has no storage facilities for these waters, the government is now looking at the full utilisation of the 3.6 million acre feet of water it is entitled to.

The meeting also decided to look at the possibility of generating the full potential of 18,000 MW of power from these rivers.

As of now, India is generating only 3,034 MW. Projects are under construction for generating 2,526 MW, while projects for generating 5,046 MW are at an advanced stage of approval.

The Salal hydroelectric project was constructed on the Chenab river.

The Pakal Dul hydroelectric project on the Marusadar river, a tributary of the Chenab, is under construction in Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir while the Bursar project on the Chenab in Kishtwar district is to be implemented by the National Hydro Power Coproration.

The sources also pointed out that the Jammu and Kashmir assembly has also voiced dissent at the Indus Waters Treaty and called for its scrapping.

Various political parties in the state are of the view that the treaty has not benefitted the people of the state, causing damage to the tune of Rs 6,000 crore to Rs 6,500 crore annually.

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