India set to choke Pakistan

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 flow in Ravi, Beas and Sutlej collectively known as the Eastern Rivers.

Under the Treaty, 138 MAF annual flow of the 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 per cent of Indus basin waters to India. Pakistan gets 80.52 per cent of the basin waters. This is why the Treaty is sometimes pejoratively referred to as 80: 20 Treaty favouring Pakistan.

Be that as it may but about 2 MAF of Ravi river water 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. Details of this project were first worked out between Punjab and J&K in January 1979. It remained incomplete for decades only to be revived and then work was stopped again in 2016.

Things have been sorted out between Punjab and its neighbour due to intervention from the Central government which has declared it a national project.

So, 2 MAF of Ravi water continues to flow into Pakistan yearly though it is Indian share under the IWT. This will stop going into Pakistan within next couple of years.

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

Thus, from these two projects alone, Pakistan stands to lose 2.58 MAF of water per annum as 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 already creating problems in Pakistan and drawing groundwater is becoming costlier with every passing day.

In the years to come, the recharging 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 distress of its farmers.

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

It needs to be made clear 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.

– Sant Sharma

(Sant Sharma is veteran J&K based journalist. This is an excerpt from the author’s forthcoming book on Indus Water Treaty to be published soon.)

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