Although the prime ministers of India and Pakistan have spoken of their desire to open a ‘new chapter’ in ties, the long-term prospects of Pakistan and India resolving their disagreements about the “emotional issue” of water is expected to worsen in the future as the former plans to construct 155 hydropower projects on Indus, Jhelum and Chenab, an alleged move to deprive Pakistan of its water rights.
The Permanent Indus Commission (PIWC), which provides an on-going mechanism for consultation and conflict resolution through inspection, exchange of data, and visits between the two countries has compiled a list of 155 hydropower projects dams, India plants to construct in violation of the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960.
According to the Indus Waters Treaty, signed between Pakistan and India in 1960, the three Eastern Rivers of the subcontinent; Ravi, Sutlej and Bias, were given to India while the three Western Rivers; Indus, Jhelum and Chenab were given to Pakistan in a treaty brokered by the World Bank.
Acting Commissioner PIWC Usman Ghani confirmed the report when contacted, saying “Yes, India is planning 155 hydropower projects on the Western Rivers. Some of the projects are small and some are big.”
Ghani also maintained that the smaller projects being initiated by India would not affect the water inflow of Western Rivers; however, the same could not be said of some of the bigger projects India had in mind.
“If India initiates a project of an installed capacity of 4-Megawatt (MW), it will not affect water inflow,” he added.
A list compiled by PICW revealed that India had constructed 41 hydropower projects and 12 hydropower plants were under construction, in addition to the 155 projects planned on the Western Rivers.
India has completed the construction of 6 hydropower plants on River Chenab, including 450-MW Baglihar 1 and 690-MW Salal 2. Construction on two projects was under way, including the 450-MW Baglihar 2 and 15MW Ranja-Ala-Dunadi.
Furthermore, India has planned an additional 56 hydropower projects on River Chenab, including some big projects such as the 1200-MW Sawalkot (1 and 2), 715-MW Seli, 1000-MW Pakaldul (1 and 2), 1020-MW Bursar (1 and 2), 690-MW Rattle (1 and 2) and 600-MW Kiru.
India has completed 15 projects on River Jhelum, including the 480-MW Uri-1, 105-MW Lower Jhelum and 105-MW Upper Sindh.
Six projects are under construction, including the 240-MW Uri 2 and 330-MW Kishanganga. India also plans to initiate 74 projects on River Jhelum, including a few big projects such as the 165MW Sonamarg Storage, 100MW Gangabal Storage and 280MW multipurpose Ujh Storage.
However, the International Court of Arbitration (ICA) has barred India from any permanent works on the controversial Kishanganga project in response to Pakistan’s appeal for ‘interim measures’ against the dam which may inhibit the restoration of the river flow to its natural channel. Some of the projects constructed by India have been contested by Pakistan, including the Baglihar dam on River Chenab. But when the matter was taken before a neutral expert against its construction, the verdict was given against Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2011.