February 2003 News

Abrogate Indus Water Treaty

28 February 2003
The Daily Excelsior
Dr. D. C. Sharma

Jammu: The State Government of J&K has been raising her voice from time to time to review the Indus Water Treaty which was concluded between India and Pakistan without consulting the State Government. The said Treaty was concluded under the auspices of the UNO in 1960, the problem of the sharing of the resources of river water between India and Pakistan came up. India was in a position to block the flow of water to Pakistan at any time so Pakistan was fearful that her existing irrigation system could be jeoparadised. If so happened her very survival was at risk. Keeping in view this apprehension, it is said that she wanted to grab the State of J&K consequently she attacked State and succeeded in capturing a part of the State of Jammu & Kashmir. This resulted in a virtual control over the water of river Jehulm. But still she was fearful of India that the existing supply of water from three eastern rivers viz. Ravi, Beas and Sutlez could be stopped. Even the water river Chenab could be diverted towards India. This fear of stopping river waters to Pakistan forced the Govt. of Pakistan to approach the Western countries for amicable settlement of the resources of river waters between India and Pakistan. At the initial stage, Pt. Nehru the Prime Minister of India was reluctant of any such settlement on the water of the western rivers viz, Indus, Jehlum and Chenab and termed that these are our rivers and whatever utilization we want of these rivers is solely the prerogative of the Government of India. But due to the pressure of the Western countries Pt. Nehru yielded and a Treaty of Indus Water was concluded between India and Pakistan in 1960 under the good offices of the UNO. Under this Treaty, India got full rights over the use of three eastern rivers viz. Ravi, Beas and Sutlez whereas Pakistan got full rights over the use of three western rivers viz. Indus, Jehlum and Chenab. Under this Treaty Pakistan was also given time to construct dams and canals to divert the water of three western rivers for irrigation instead of the existing canal system which used to get water from the eastern rivers viz. Ravi, Beas and Sutlez. By conceding to Pakistan her rights over the western rivers, the Govt. of India almost barted away her sovereignty over a part of the State of Jammu and Kashmir which Pakistan had occupied illegally. The question arises why India agreed to such deal which gave to Pakistan the sovereignty over Azad Kashmir. Though there is no mention of Mungla Dam in the said Treaty yet Pakistan was free to construct Dam at Mangla near Mirpur (Azad Kashmir) and I think this was a tactical victory of Pakistan. While Pakistan got millions of dollars from Western countries as a free aid to construct new infrastructure for irrigation in her country whereas India got a very less amount as compared to Pakistan and that too in the form of loan to construct her infrastructure for irrigation. At that time no body visualised the future needs of the J&K State in terms of Hydro Electricity, irrigation and drinking water. According to Art 3 of Indus Water Treaty India has been allowed the restricted use of water of three western rivers for domestic purposes (in J&K State) except generating electricity. Even the prestigious Salal Project over the years have been receiving earth and boulders and consequently its bed level has been raised. This factor has resulted in effecting its generating capacity. So it requires desilting and desilting is possible by opening the gates of the dam but India is not allowed to open the gates under this Treaty as there is every apprehension that such action could devastate the low lying area of Pakistan. Moreover, the State of Jammu and Kashmir wanted to use the water of the Wullar Lake for irrigation and other purposes but Pakistan has objected to this proposal of the State Govt with the increase in the population of the State, the needs of the State in terms of water resources have also increased four-fold but the State is helpless to carry on her development works because of the restrictions imposed under the Indus Water Treaty. Recently, the State Government has sought a compensation from the Govt. of India for the losses it has suffered over the past 42 years because of the Indus Water Treaty and also requested the Central Government to & revive it likewise the present Govt. of Gujarat has also sought water for her parched land in Kuchh from the river Indus. Let us see how we can abrogate the Indus Water Treaty or get it reviewed in the light of the growing needs of Water resources of States of J&K and Gujarat. If we go through the Article III of the Indus Water Treaty we see that Govt of India is under obligation to let flow all the waters of the western rivers (Indus, Jehlum and Chenab) to Pakistan. This clause further says that Government of India is bound not to interfere with the Water of these western rivers except:- *Domestic Use *Non consumptive use *Agricultural Use (with conditions) Generation of Hydro Electric power (with conditions) India shall also not store any water or construct any storage works on the Western rivers. In case of Wullar Lake Project which J&K Government wanted to execute, the water of the Jehlum river has to be stored and to which Pakistan does not allow the State Government under the existing Indus Water Treaty. In such situation both the Governments of J&K and Gujarat States should stress upon the Government of India to the review the Indus Water Treaty, which I think was concluded with the Govt. of Pakistan without the consultation of the concerned States. In case Pakistan does not agree with Government of India for its review, then India should approach the UNO that the existing Indus Water Treaty would be abrogated because of non-co-operation from the Government of Pakistan. It would be in the national interest if the said treaty is modified or abrogated keeping in mind the needs of the States of J&K and Gujarat. The said Treaty was a step towards the international cooperation in respect of sharing the water resources of the six rivers of Northern India.


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