Water Aggression


The controversial hydropower project, Kishanganga, has been completed by India. The project can be seen as a continuation of water aggression of India against Pakistan. Pakistan’s central reservation against the construction of the project is that it would have an adverse impact on the flow of the river downstream. The project will affect Pakistan’s water share as soon as it becomes operational. Furthermore, it will also hamper the working of the Neelum-Jehlum Hydroelectric Power Plant, as there will be not sufficient water to operate the plant at the optimum level with a low flow of water.
Under the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) 1960 Article III, India is under an obligation to let all the waters of the western rivers, i.e., Chenab, Jhelum and Indus flow and shall not permit any interference with these waters, except for enumerated uses that include generation of hydroelectric power as set out in Annexure D of the Treaty. Though Pakistan has sent a communiqué to the vice president of the World Bank (WB) urging the international organisation to play its role to ensure that India abided by the provisions of the 1960 treaty while building the projects, however, it is also true that the concerned authorities in Pakistan are not competent.
The sad fact is that Pakistan failed to raise its voice at international forums to stop the Indian government from building water reservoirs on rivers running towards Pakistan. And when it did, it was too late. It is an emergency situation. Islamabad needs to devote all its energies to reach an equitable formula of water distribution with India. If the usual lethargy and lack of seriousness are shown, Pakistan will face immense problems in different areas of its economy. The energy, agriculture, fishing industries are just a few of the many sectors that will bear the brunt of India’s water aggression.
The newly constructed projects by Indian side on the western rivers are nothing but an attempt to undermine the IWT. While it is true that IWT contains the clause that allows India to construct hydropower facilities on these rivers but subject to the constraints, which are there to save Pakistan from the harmful effects of any such construction. If the WB fails to take swift measures in this regard, IWT will lose its significance, which is considered as one of the most successful international agreements for peacefully resolving previous water disputes between India and Pakistan.