India and Pakistan need to revisit the Indus Water Treaty to address water needs, stated experts at a report launch on Wednesday.
The report “Indus Basin Roadmap for Cross-border Water Research, Data Sharing, and Policy Coordination” stresses cross-border dissemination of hydrological data, investment on regular maintenance of canal infrastructure, drip irrigation systems and identifying alternative crops better suited for growth in the basin’s arid climate..
Shafqat Kakakhel, former ambassador, said the 1960 Indus Water Treaty has no response mechanism for variations in water flow due to climate change. But that is just one of the treaty’s shortcomings. “The agreement does not contain effectively binding provisions to address water quality or pollution.” Similarly, while the two countries share trans-boundary aquifers, there are no provisions for managing groundwater supplies,” he added
Water scarcity is a common challenge and a joint approach should be adopted to address it, Kakakhel stated.David Michael, director of environmental security at the Stimson Centre, shared the report’s recommendations. Effective management of the basin’s water resources, based on scientific data and confidence-building measures, can promote a sustainable future for India and Pakistan
The report also recommends developing a digitised online model of the Indus Basin and increasing knowledge on monsoon variability trends. Experts at the report launch called for rainwater harvesting and water storage to deal with reduced availability.
The report was produced by the Indus Working Group, an outcome of a Pakistan-India Track II project. Sustainable Development Policy Institute had partnered with the Stimson Center for the project.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 28th, 2013.