AQUA BOMB Against Pakistan

Water wars is a phrase used to describe increased competition for water resources, due to drought, climate change, or increasing populations; controversies over and reduced access due to privatization of water services; or the role of these tensions in leading to physical conflicts, within or among nations.

This century would be an era in which rivers, lakes and aquifers will become national security assets to be fought over. A country is in a serious water crisis when the available water is lower than 1,000 cubic metres per person per year. When the annual water availability per person drops below 500 cubic metres, people’s survival is grievously compromised.

It’s more visible in case of Subcontinent where both Pakistan and India are at daggers drawn over the construction of dams and barrages. India is trying to navigate its way out of a debate with Pakistan over the construction of various barrages and dams while Pakistan wants to take the issue up in the international community.

The construction of Uri Todiam Dam on river Poonch and Kishanganga Dam on river Neelum, two tributaries of river Jhelum, are near completion. Many other small hydel projects had also been accomplished while paper work has been done on five more dams; most of them to be erected on Pakistani rivers. The pace of work on these projects prognosticates their completion soon. Consequently, India will be in a position to close down both rivers when it wills. This would play havoc with our agriculture and industry, and the inhabitants of these areas will face an acute drinking water shortage.

Besides destruction of water resources, forest catchments and aquifers, denying people access to water by disrupting natural water distribution is a blatant terrorism.

India is poised to erect a major dam at Kargil on the Indus and $200 billion has also been disbursed for this purpose. The Indian water belligerence started when despite signing the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty, it, in 1985, invited a bid for the development of Tulbul Navigational Project on Jhelum River below the Wullar Lake near Sopore, 25 km north of Srinagar. For Pakistan, the geo-strategic significance of the site lies in the fact that its protectorate endows India with the means to browbeat Pakistan. This dam has the prospective to devastate the system of the triple canal project within Pakistan namely, the Upper Jhelum Canal, Upper Chenab Canal and the Lower Bari Doab Canal. Pakistan maintains that the construction of this major Barrage will convert the resulting natural lake into a man-made storage with a capacity of 0.324 million acre feet (MAF) and will adversely affect the flow of water into the country.

The situation gets grimmer for Pakistan with further construction of 12 dams on tributaries of river Indus. The Indian government brushing aside five objections raised by Pakistan on Baglihar Dam started construction work. This controversial project violated not only the Indus Waters Treaty but also robbed Pakistan of its precious Chenab water. New Delhi denounced any alteration in the design. Pakistanis believe that the height of the dam at 470 feet is disproportionate and will create a reservoir in excess of the power generation needs. This new reservoir potentially could block the flow of the river for 26-28 days during the low season (January-February). In addition, a drop of 7,000 cubic feet per second per day in the river’s flow to Pakistan will come to pass during this period. The Baglihar Dam together with Dul Hasti and other dams can plainly diminish the flow of Chenab during the vital Rabi crop-sowing season (January and February). The dried crop could spell a disaster to Pakistan’s agricultural economy. It is also feared that India will be diverting water to some canals near Akhnor in Kashmir and storing the water in the Salal Dam in Jammu.

Besides destruction of water resources, forest catchments and aquifers, denying people access to water by disrupting natural water distribution is a blatant terrorism.

 Now with this, the looming water war has arrived a stride nigher to comme il faut, a bloodcurdling actuality after latest Indian design to engage new 60 hydroelectric power projects on the Chenab river basin.
Pakistan is on the verge of being water vulnerable. This scarceness is kicking the bucket to the country’s agrarian yield, and so it has very rationality to be disquieted about India’s purposes. According to the Indus Waters Treaty, Pakistan had control over the Indus, Chenab and Jhelum rivers but India was countenanced to apply them for irrigation and electricity propagation, as long as it never divest Pakistan of its legitimate partake. But, India has soon profaned the conditions of the Treaty through its former power generation projects. India will soon reach the stage where it has enough dams to gravely strike Pakistan’s water provision.

On top of the mutual suspicion, we have the apparition of weather change to contend with. Shrinking glaciers will reduce the flows of the rivers ‘by as much as 10 per cent in the next 30 years. Since the total volume of water available to both countries will be reduced, they are likely to fight even harder for access to it. India is already gaining an advantage through its power generation projects, most of which are constructed without first carrying out any kind of environmental impact assessment. The political and environmental implications of the water situation are no longer the same as they were in 1960 when the Indus Waters Treaty was signed, but there seems even less willingness to negotiate and compromise, especially from the Indian side. Without a bit of maturity India is treating this upcoming disaster in the same way as it has been doing on the vexing issue of Kashmir.

By: Khurram Ali Khan

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