Fri. Apr 19th, 2019

India working to utilise 100% of its water share under Indus Waters Treaty

River Ravi

The Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) of September 1960 gives 33 Million Acre Feet (MAF) of Eastern Rivers to India for its exclusive use. This is the quantum of annual flows in Rivers Ravi, Beas and Sutlej that are collectively known as the Eastern Rivers.

Under the Indus Waters Treaty, 138 MAF annual flows of the Rivers Chenab, Jhelum and the Indus were given to Pakistan. These are known as the Western Rivers and were given to Pakistan.

It works out to an apportionment of 19.48% of Indus basin waters to India. Pakistan gets 80.52% of the basin waters. This is why this Treaty is sometimes pejoratively referred to as 80:20 Treaty favouring Pakistan.

Be that as it may, but about 2 MAF water of the River Ravi flows into Pakistan, downstream of Madhopur Headwords. This will henceforth be stopped and diverted away from Pakistan territories lying downstream.

It will happen because of the revival of Shahpur Kandi Barrage Project. This projects’ details were first worked out between Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir in January 1979. It remained incomplete for decades, work was revived later on but was stopped again in 2016.

Now, things have been sorted out between Punjab and its neighbouring state Jammu & Kashmir. Due to intervention from the Central government which has declared it to be a national project. So far, about 2 MAF of River Ravi’s water continues to flow into Pakistan every year despite it being the Indian share under the IWT. This will stop going into Pakistan over the next couple of years.

Besides, about 0.58 MAF waters of the River Ujh flows into Pakistan but it is a tributary of Ravi and the entire water flow is part of India’s share. This too will be diverted in a manner that it will stop flowing into Pakistan territories located downstream south west of River Ujh.

Thus from these two projects alone, Pakistan stands to lose 2.58 MAF of water per annum, after they are completed over the next few years. This will put a squeeze on Pakistan and water availability in Punjab will be more problematic than it already is.

Presently, Pakistan draws 3.7 MAF of groundwater annually. Of this, only 3 MAF gets recharged leaving a deficit of 0.7 MAF. This is creating problems in Pakistan and drawing groundwater is becoming costlier with every passing day.

In the years to come, recharge of groundwater in large areas of Punjab in Pakistan will only worsen as 2.58 MAF stops flowing there. The recharge deficit will only increase substantially and add to the distress of farmers.

The construction of Ujh Multipurpose Project to create storage of 781 MCM (Million Cubic Metre) is the third project which will stop India’s water share from flowing into Pakistan. Together, the three projects will have very deleterious effects on Pakistan.

It needs to be made clear that a humongous quantity of water, 2.58 MAF per year, for the last 60 years has already flown into Pakistan, though this water was India’s share. In the next five to six years, this is set to change completely.

Presently, India uses 95% of 33 MAF it has been allotted under the IWT. Once this utilisation is enhanced further, India will be able to utilise its entire share of waters under the IWT division of rivers.

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