Recently, Pakistan has expressed serious concerns over construction of Kishanganga Dam by India and has termed it a clear violation of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT). It also said that four other proposed dams on the Chenab would be in violation of the treaty.
According to the August 25, 2014 news report in the Dawn newspaper, Pakistani authorities raised objections to the diversion of Chenab water by India by constructing hydropower projects, including the 690MW Ratli Dam, 1,000MW Pikkal Dam, 1,190MW Karthai Dam and 600MW Kero Dam and said this was a violation of the treaty
The main argument raised by Pakistan on the Kishanganga project does not pertain to technical objections; it pertains to India’s legal interpretation of the IWT itself. This is why Pakistan has skipped referring the case to the Neutral Expert and has referred it directly to the Court of Arbitration, the highest IWT mechanism for resolving water disputes between India and Pakistan. Pakistan’s arguments on Indian projects in the past have lacked technical accuracy, so perhaps it has decided to take a different approach this time around. In addition, India had made major design changes to the Kishanganga project in 2004 and this apparently took ‘the sting’ out of the more mechanical problems that Pakistan had raised with the dam initially.
Pakistan’s water woes are always blamed on the upper riparian nation India with accusations that India is responsible for blocking Pakistan’s water supply. However, the reality is that the water shortage problems in Pakistan are not a case of obstruction by external forces but rather a case of wastage and unequal distribution by internal forces. Pakistan’s irrigation sector has some of the lowest conveyance efficiencies in the world. Conveyance losses result in water wastage within Pakistan.
The construction of dams and other assets by India on the rivers have been done within the ambit of the Indus Water Treaty, 1960. The same is the case with the Kishenganga project, in fact the quantity and other permissible usages of the rivers have not yet been fully utilized by India.
It is about time Pakistan looked inwards to resolve it’s pathetic water management systems rather than blame all that is not suiting them on India. An article in the same newspaper (Pakistan’s water woes should not be blamed on ‘bogeyman’ India by Murtaza Haider) clearly brings out the true picture that India conveniently serves as the bogeyman for Pakistan’s domestic water disputes. The IWT remains the treaty which gives maximum largesse by an upper riparian (India) to a lower riparian, and India continues uphold the treaty despite false accusations by Pakistan.