Ravi river waters stopped to Pakistan – a giant move redefines Indus Water Treaty

Prameyanews English

Published By : Prameya News Bureau | February 27, 2024 IST

Ravi river

Arun Joshi

It is clear now that India has decided to assert its rights on the waters of rivers covered under the 1960 Indus Water Treaty , by stopping waters of  river Ravi that flows through  Punjab to Pakistan. This  is in keeping with the terms and conditions of the World Bank brokered Treaty more than six decades ago .

This announcement that  Ravi river waters will not flow to Pakistan now, as India has full control over the three-rivers – Ravi, Sutlej and Beas , was made by Minister  in Prime Minister’s Office  Dr. Jitendra Singh , coinciding with the completion of long-pending Shahpur Kandi project  that would irrigate large swathes of agricultural land in Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir . Jitendra Singh is an M P from Jammu region of the UT of J&K.

It is important from two angles , which are very  crucial to the Indian stand that the time has come to review the  Treaty as the conditions have changed since it came into effect in Nehru-Mohammad Ayub Khan era in 1960 . First , it is a clear signal to Pakistan that it cannot dictate terms to India on  the water share  by  raising  objections to  various hydro-electric projects on the three rivers – Chenab, Jhelum and Indus ( that now falls in the UT of Ladakh,  the region that was part of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir  until October 30, 2019) . Secondly , India has realized that its farmers need the waters more than anyone else.

The Shahpur Kandi Barrage , the foundation  of which  was laid by Prime Minister P V Narsimha Rao  in 1995, on its completion is all set to irrigate 52,000 hectares of land in Punjab and Kashmir . Till this date , 1150 cusecs of water  was flowing to Pakistan . And India was losing its  own water  to Pakistan , that too at the cost of Indian farmers’ needs.

Seen against the backdrop of January 25, 2023 notice to Pakistan to come to negotiating table to review the treaty and find a way out through amendments . India  cannot afford to lose its water to Pakistan , and at the same  time oblige Pakistan with extra concessions . Despite Pakistan’s  old  time habit of objecting to the Indian projects  on the rivers flowing through Jammu and Kashmir , India never stopped water to Pakistan . It fulfilled all the terms and conditions laid in the Treaty and made the arrangement work even when the  two countries were at war , or when Pakistan mounted a proxy war in Kashmir by exporting terrorism and its tools- bombs and bullets.

Perhaps a  larger picture of the proxy war that Pakistan launched in Jammu and Kashmir in late 1980s  has not been calculated in the realistic fashion. The whole  context of proxy was , now it seems, was not only about unleashing terror and fear in Kashmir , it was essentially aimed at accessing the water resources in the region . While the terrorism kept the Indian attention focused  on tackling the situation and defeating designs of terrorists , Pakistan  managed a situation wherein India could not utilize its own water resources . The rivers in Jammu and Kashmir have an estimated power generating capacity of 20,000 MWs., but the generating capacity from all the hydro-electric projects is nowhere close to it . The region that should have been  energy surplus is suffering from huge power- deficit.  Jammu and Kashmir suffered all the ill-effects of  terrorism , losing its youth  to graveyards  to future of the new generations , Pakistan was gaining all the  water of the three rivers of J&K . The projects were suffering delays and the water on which India had its right also flowed to Pakistan , enriching Pakistan’s fields and economy .

The latest move  will help India to save millions of cusecs of water , serving its farmers in the two border states of Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab . There is something more in it . India should go in for rapid building of its projects  as the climate  change is inflicting huge losses on glaciers  and rivers .

Arun Joshi is author of “Eyewitness Kashmir; Teetering on Nuclear War and senior journalist based in Jammu and Kashmir, writes on South Asian affairs)


Disclaimer: This is the personal opinion of the author. The views expressed in this write-up have nothing to do with www.prameyanews.com

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