March 2003 News

Indus Treaty Can't Be Scrapped: Mufti

12 March 2003
The Asian Age

Srinagar: Jammu and Kashmir chief minister, Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, has ruled out the possibility of scrapping the controversial Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan. He told the state Assembly, now in session in Jammu, that in view of international obligations, India could scrap the treaty as many were demanding. He, however, said that the state government proposed to send an all-party delegation from Jammu and Kashmir to New Delhi to apprise the Centre of the concern of the legislature and seek compensation for the recurring loss the state was incurring due to the treaty. Replying to a private member's resolution moved by Mr Yogesh Sawhney seeking an Assembly resolution to 'scrap the Indus Water Treaty,' Mr Sayeed said though he is in agreement with the spirit of the resolution, he does not favour scrapping the treaty. Instead, he said, the state should lay an emphasis on seeking compensation from the Centre on account of losses caused to it due to the treaty. The chief minister wanted the members to take a holistic view on the issue and said 'we don't want to further increase the tension between India and Pakistan in view of already strained relations.' He added that the state would make a strong plea before the Centre to ask Islamabad to allow the state to construct the Tulbul Navigational Lock Project on Wullar lake in the Kashmir Valley for water storage. This barrage will in no way cause any damage to Pakistan but will regulate water storage system in its Mangla Dam and will also help Jammu and Kashmir to revive its navigational transport system and increase storage capacity for the benefit of the people of the state, the chief minister said. India was mulling cancelling this treaty as a way to hit back at Pakistan in the wake of the terrorist attack on Parliament House. However, after considering the international implications of such a harsh move and the possibility of Pakistan moving the International Court of Justice at The Hague, the idea was shelved. The state government had some time ago planned the Tulbul Navigational Lock project in the Wullar Lake in northwestern Kashmir to stabilise the two major hydroelectric powerhouses on the river Jhelum. It was also exploring the possibilities of a few more on Kashmir's main river which originates from Verinag spring, about 85-km southeast of Srinagar and goes down into Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir after flowing through the Valley. However, the project did not see the light of the day in the face of stiff resistance by Islamabad saying it went against the Indus Water Treaty signed between the then Prime Minister of India, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistani President Field Marshal Ayub Khan on September 19, 1960 at Karachi. The treaty awarded the three eastern rivers namely Ravi, Sutlej and Beas exclusively to India and the three western rivers - Indus, Jhelum and Chenab - exclusively to Pakistan except for limited use by India in upstream areas in Jammu and Kashmir, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. As per the treaty, the construction of storage dams in upstream Jhelum within the Kashmir Valley is not allowed. That is why the hydroelectric projects on the Jhelum have to be run-of-the-river schemes. A series of meetings between the visiting Pakistani delegations and their Indian hosts held during the past six years failed to make a breakthrough on this issue. After the reply of chief minister, Mr Sawhney withdrew the resolution.


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