By Afia Ambreen
According to media reports, Pakistan has decided to move the World Bank for appointment of Neutral Expert as it has received no nomination from India for joint appointment of neutral expert on ongoing construction of 330MW Kishanganga Hydropower Project being built on Ganga river in held Kashmir and 850MW Ratle hydropower project being erected on River Chenab by New Delhi with faulty designs. A senior government official of Law Ministry said, “We have decided to move World Bank (WB) for the appointment of Neutral Expert and to this effect, the draft is being finalized. The seriousness of Nawaz government to win the battle can be gauged from the fact that it has hired the consortium of two US-based law firms that include “Three Crowns” and “Walliams & Connelly”. Both law firms are also well-known lobbyists in US.” He said that earlier Pakistan was used to hire individual lawyers of international repute to fight the legal battle on hydropower projects erected by India on Pakistan’s rivers.
The period between 2005 and 2015 was declared the decade of water cooperation by the UN and concepts of transboundary water collaboration, shared waters and shared responsibilities were initialed. Co-riparian states were asked to use this, so that natural resources could be used for the common good and for development, and not for conflicts and wars. Pakistan and India are among 145 countries which share common international basins. Decrease in water quality, climate change, migration, population influx and several other factors have influenced both the riparian states to develop water cooperation mechanisms to meet their challenges.
India is currently constructing both the projects along with mega storages of water on Pakistan rivers with the designs which are completely breaching the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty. Pakistan had raised the three objections on Kishanganga project’s design saying that the poundage of the project is 7.5 million cubic meter which is excessive and it should be one million cubic meter. Pakistan also wants India to raise intake by up to 4 meters and also raise spillways up to 9 meters high. And on the issue of Ratle Hydropower plant, Islamabad raised four objections. Pakistan wants India to maintain free board at 1 meter whereas India wants to keep it at 2 meters. In addition India wants to keep the poundage of 24 million cubic meters but Pakistan wants the poundage should of 8 million cubic meters. Pakistan also wants the intake of the project should be raised by up to 8.8 meters and it spillways should be raised by up to 20 meters.
India is also constructing the Rattle Hydropower Project on Chenab river and If it manages to construct the project under its existing objectionable design, the water flow of Chenab river at Head Marala will reduce by 40 percent which will be very detrimental to the irrigation in central Punjab of Pakistan. This dam will be three times larger than the Baglihar hydropower dam. India has already carved out the plan to generate 32,000MW of electricity on Pakistan’s rivers and will be having the capacity to regulate the water flows that are destined to reach Pakistan. On NeelumRiver that joins the JehlumRiver in Pakistan; India has already completed Uri-1, Uri-II hydropower project and is also close to complete Kishenganga hydropower project. So much so it has also built two hydropower projects on IndusRiver that include Nimmo Bazgo and Chattak hydropower project.
Kishanganga is not the only project that India and Pakistan have been fighting over. The two countries had faced off over the Baghlihar hydel-power project, built by damming the ChenabRiver in Indian Kashmir. In 2008 Pakistan was faced withdecreased flow of water in the Chenab when India started to fill the dam. The river feeds water to 21 major canals and irrigates about 2.8 million hectares of arable land in Pakistan. Pakistan Economy Watch (PEW), an economic think-tank, calculated that filling the Baghlihar dam would inflict a loss of $1.5 billion on Pakistan. Analysts termed it a hydro weapon. The fast-flowing Chenab, a vital river for Pakistan’s agriculture, has a high potential for generating power and India plans to generate 16,000MW of energy by constructing nine power houses on it.
To conclude, intention of India was not always in favor of Pakistan and they always tried to exploit Pakistan and destruct its economy by various instruments and the water dispute was also a part of it. The country is rapidly moving towards its target of making Pakistan totally barren by building dams on three major rivers Chenab, Jhelum and Indus flowing into Pakistan from the Indian side of the border.
These dams are being built in shrewd violation of provisions in Indus Water Treaty signed between the two countries to ensure equitable distribution of water resources. India is doing its best to overturn the IWT but Pakistan must not fall into the Indian trap by following a two-pronged strategy. First, to pursue this case with full vigour, second, to utilize this breathing space to start building irrigation-cum-generation projects on the Indus. However, a permanent solution will involve a settlement of the Kashmir issue. It would mean a general Indo-Pak settlement, ridding us of threat of water projects in Held Kashmir.