Protecting water resources: Water experts call for Siachen demilitarisation

Urge Pak, India to declare Himalayan glaciers 'protected areas'.

Zafar Bhutta January 12, 2012

ISLAMABAD: Independent experts have urged Pakistan and India to declare all Himalayan glaciers as ‘Protected Areas,’ and consequently demilitarise Siachen to preserve the second-longest glacier in the world for exclusively feeding into the Indus water basin.

The unanimous solutions have been arrived at after a series of dialogues with Indian water and energy experts, intelligentsia and environmentalists in New Delhi, Islamabad, Bangkok and Dubai, said water and energy expert at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Arshad H Abbasi, in a letter to the prime minister.

Independent commission

The experts also jointly proposed setting up an independent Indus Water Commission under the direct control of United Nations, and comprising neutral experts from various international agencies including the Work Bank, the United Nations Environment Programme and the European Union.

The proposed commission would have the mandate to compile and post real time data on a web portal, including information on all tributaries at all head-works and dams, and three-dimensional models of dams representing their flood storage data and hydropower projects.

The Indus Water Treaty is evidently the most successful confidence-building measure between the two countries, but there is a need to make the treaty more transparent using technology, Abbasi said.

A satellite-based, real-time telemetry system in Indian Kashmir, installed at a minimum of 100 locations for monitoring water quality and quantity would help remove mistrust on data exchange, he added.

Projects on Chenab

Abbasi has also drawn the prime minister’s attention to the ongoing work on the 990-MW Kirthai Dam and the 690-MW Rattle project on the Chenab River in Kishtwar district of Indian Kashmir.

“Neither the water and power ministry, nor the foreign ministry has taken up the case with the Indian government,” Abbasi said.

“We are left with very little time to plead our case since both projects are likely to be completed in the next five years,” he added.

The combined live storage of these projects would have an adverse impact on Chenab and other rivers.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 12th, 2012.


Prof. R.K. Ganjoo | 10 years ago | Reply

The debate on the demilitarisation of Siachen has been going on for some time. It would be appreciated if the entire world is demilitarised and the human and finanacial resources on military are channeld for the development and growth of human society the world over. We all know, it is not going to happen. The scientific data is required to understand how much water is available to Himalayan rivers from the melting of glaciers. As of today we have very inadequate data on this fact, still we talk very loudly to impress others. Most of the glaciers in Karakorum Mountains are not melting or have a very insignificant rate of melting. Thus the contribution of glaciers to river such as Indus is negligible. Adequate scientific research is available to prove this fact. It would be appropriate to have sufficient scientific data to establish the percentage of contribution of the melt water to the major rivers in Himalaya and then intiate such debates on demilitarisation. My fear is that, if the planet earth enters into the phase of global cooling (a strong school of climatologists belive that planet earth will enter period of cooling rather than warming), then what would be the fate of rivers emerging from Himalaya.

shahnawaz taing | 10 years ago | Reply

Besides protection to much needed water resources,the move will also give new lease of life tosmart Snow leopard...yes soldiers of both the countries,will get a respite from sub human and harsh climatic these poor soldiers also belong to Human spicie. Also money saved thus can be used to lift many families living below poverty line to comfortable level of living..

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