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Indus Water Treaty now ineffective: int'l water expert

Water News: 

The Indus Water Treaty has now become ineffective as India is continuously violating all clauses of the treaty and Pakistan is not challenging them at any international forum by tacit approbation. International Water Expert Engr Bashir Malik, who has served United Nations and World Bank as chief technical adviser on Thursday said the cheapest and environment-friendly solution to water and energy crisis in Pakistan was the Kalabagh Dam, which could only be built by a patriotic and brave leader having the courage to break all the barriers in the best national interest.

Malik said Save Water Save Pakistan Forum would initiate a campaign to highlight water and energy crisis and their solution at national level for which they would have dialogues with the national leadership besides conducting seminars and conferences with the help of technical and legal experts. Pakistan remained undecided to appoint patriotic and real water management experts to take up its case before International Court of Arbitration (COA) against India over construction of hydropower project in violation of the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty.

Sindh Agriculture Forum (SAF) experts said the country is heading towards the worst water shortage in the next couple of years due to insufficient water management practices and storage capacity, they said.

Pakistan has right to oppose the Kishanganga project because its diversion will reduce 16 percent of the power generation capacity of the 969 megawatts (MW) Neelum-Jhelum power project on the same river downstream Muzaffarabad in Azad Kashmir, an official of the Ministry of Water and Power said.

Due to the poor handling of case with India as well as in COA, Pakistan could not gain points in favour of its case, only because of a team of jurists, not sincere from the start. A report by the Washington DC based Woodrow Wilson Centre described Pakistan's water shortage as deeply troubling. He said Neelum-Jhelum power project case in COA, Pakistan would face a loss of energy of more than Rs 6 billion every year. Pakistan and India have agreed on the selection of two arbitrators each for the seven-member court of arbitration, but have failed so far to agree on the appointment of three arbitrators belonging to engineering and law to complete the adjudication forum for more than seven months now.

The Indus Water Treaty with India remained just on papers. India had diverted Pakistani water and constructed more dams, which would further worsen the water situation in Pakistan.

The Senate Committee on Food and Agriculture said underground water in Punjab province was going down due to provision of free electricity to Indian Punjab for tube wells. The farmers were taking excessive water through tube wells, which resulted in downward trend of water in Pakistan's Punjab. The underground water level went down from about 70-100 feet to up to 1,000 feet and has been termed as a worsening situation. Under the treaty, three western rivers, Chenab, Jehlum and Indus are allocated to Pakistan and India is not allowed to build storages on them.

The mystery of allegedly involvement of former Indus Water Commissioner (IWC), Jammat Ali Shah to facilitate Indian authorities for building controversial Nimo Bazgo has yet to be resolved because of silence adopted by the Ministry of Water and Power. Preliminary report maintained that former water commissioner, Shah did not play his due role and remained silent about the Nimoo Bazgo Hydropower Project (built by India during 2002- 2009) and did not raise any objections during the Pak-India meetings at the level of Permanent Indus Commission of Indus Waters.