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Indus Water Treaty and Jammu & Kashmir State
   By Suresh Thukral

Indus Water Treaty which regulates the sharing of water between two neighboring countries India and Pakistan, it is bilateral treaty which was signed in Karachi on 19 September 1960 by the then Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the then President of Pakistan Field Marshal Mohammad Ayub Khan,. The World Bank (then the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) is signatory as a third party witness to the treaty.

Indus River and  Fields

According to the treaty the Pakistan is to enjoy exclusive use of three Western Rivers Viz., Indus, Jhehlum and Chenab with minor exceptions, as existing irrigation canals to be continued for use of India and water required to be used for drinking purpose shall not come within the purview of this treaty, at the same time India shall have exclusive rights for use of water on the three Eastern rivers along with water of it’s tributaries viz. Satluj, Beas and Ravi.

Under the provisions of this treaty Pakistan also received financial compensation from India for the loss of water from Eastern Rivers a sum of 6,20,60,000 Pounds Sterling in ten equal installments through the media of World bank. The sum was supposed to be used for the development of water resources in Pakistan, but recent devastating floods in Indus Basin have shown that Pakistan have not made any effort for the regulating and development of vast water resources available to them under this treaty, rather it has remained busy in the process of provoking public sentiments against India.

The treaty further lays down exchange of water Data of rivers between countries with regards to Gauge and discharge, data relating to flow of these rivers and formation of permanent Indus commissions with Commissioners from both the countries, these two commissioners shall together form the permanent Indus Water Commission. Commissioner of each country should ordinary be a high ranking Engineer competent in the field of hydrology and water use. The purpose and function of the commission shall be to establish and maintain cooperative arrangement for the implementation of treaty. The commission shall determine its own procedure for functioning, meeting and to sort out day to day problems.

Concern of Jammu & Kashmir State to Indus Water Treaty

The treaty is nicely drafted with regard to water sharing and by and large have performed well for many years, an important point is that with the ratification of this treaty Pakistan have recognized the sovereignty of India over the state of Jammu & Kashmir and have agreed to terms and conditions with India over the sharing of water passing through the J&K State, but in aftermath successive governments of Pakistan made it as tool to defame India over the treaty, to divert attention of their people from country’s internal problems and to suppress their democratic rights. Voices have come from Pakistan to scrap the treaty but they have failed to give any feasible alternative, this show their malicious intention with the intention to further defame India on the international level.

Pakistan unnecessarily raised baseless objections on the Baghlihar Hydro Electric Power project constructed by India on the rivers Chenab to fulfill the requirement of power in the state, while treaty do not prohibit India to exploit power potential from these rivers, Pakistan raised the issue at the international forum with the world Bank who was just witness to the treaty and as a Bank Guarantor for the payment of compensation which was to be received by the Pakistan from India and thereafter with the consent of both the countries Professor Lafitte a Swiss National Engineer and professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne was appointed by the world Bank on 10 May 2005 as a neutral expert to find out the differences between two governments and to provide his expert neutral opinion under the terms and conditions of Indus Water Treaty agreement.

Though India was not bound for the appointment of neutral expert, yet India with the open mind did not objected much to the appointment of neutral expert, the neutral expert Professor Lafitte studied the project on the ground and also the terms and conditions of Indus Water treaty, the details of findings and opinion of Prof Lafitte were announced on 12 Feb 2007 in Ben (Switzerland) in presence of representatives of both the countries, the opinion expressed by neutral Expert under the provisions of Indus water treaty was that India has legitimate right to use water of River Chenab for hydroelectric generation.

Pakistan also raised objection over India for the development of Tulbul Navigation Project on river Jhehlum with the result India abandoned construction work on this navigation Project. While India maintained that the project was designed to improve navigation facility especially during the winter season when the water level recedes, Pakistan raised objection that the construction on Wullar barrage (Pakistan call it a barrage) is a water storage project which will affect the flow of water to Pakistan. Work on Tulbul navigation project has remained at standstill for the last many years for baseless objections, this way Pakistan have tried to deprive the people of Jammu & Kashmir State from the legitimate benefit of Navigation facilities over river Jhehlum.

The State of J&K is no way at loss to the treaty as drinking water, existing irrigation canals as Ranbir Canal, Partap canal will continue to deliver water as it is and are not with in the purview of this treaty, being hilly terrain irrigation by big canals taking water form rivers is not practically feasible in J&K and irrigation by dug wells bore wells water from springs, streams traditional mode of irrigation will continue to be in operation and not affected by this treaty.

There is a vast potential of Hydroelectric Power Project, water Navigation, tourism and recreational facilities, fishing, aqua culture, mining and minerals. on these rivers, yet to be exploited which do not come under the purview of this treaty, it is a common practice to make hue and cry over the issue of public interest without giving a thought on it’s merits and demerits, generally merits are undermined and demerits are highlighted just to blame the authorities. Needless to say that in this context voices have also been raised in the J&K Legislative assembly asking the Central Government to pay compensation to the State it is an internal issue of India and Central Government must address to it, in the same way as water dispute of Punjab and Haryana, Tamilniado and Karnataka since State of Punjab is the major beneficiary to the treaty.




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