ISLAMABAD: Water and Power Minister Khwaja Asif said that in his opinion Indus water treaty signed with India does not judiciously distribute water.
Briefing the media in Islamabad along with Pakistan's Commissioner for Indus Water Mirza Asif Baig and Secretary Water and Power Saifullah Chattha, Asif said that when the treaty had been signed, Pakistan had population of 30-40 million which had multiplied five times to 180-200 million.
The minister said Pakistan is currently contesting with India over five water projects including Kishenganga, Ratle, Miyar,Lower Kalnai hydroelectric projects, Wullar Barrage and Tulbul Navigation project.
Terming water a life and death issue for Pakistan, Asif warned that the country could become water starved in the future.
He added that consensus on water issue is needed, so Pakistan could defend its right vigorously. He urged people to change the way they use water.
Commenting on new projects, Asif said that work on Diamer Bhasha and Dassu Dams would be started simultaneously. He added that Rs21 billion have been spent on Bhasha Dam and land acquisition have also been completed.
Secretary Water and Power said India has been trying to get water in excess of the limits it is allowed under the Indus Basin Treaty.
The Indus Water Commissioner said the dispute regarding the proposed diversion of Neelum water by India and draw down of the dead storage level was referred to International Court of Arbitration.
Baig informed that the final hearing was concluded on August 31, 2012 and partial award of the court has been awarded on February 18, 2013 in which the question of diversion of river water was decided in favour of India, while the question of draw down in storage level was awarded to Pakistan.
Both parties now have to submit additional data and written submissions to the Court of Arbitration and accordingly the court will decide the quantum of water to be released below Kishenganga Hydroelectric Plant in Neelum river as environmental releases.
The final award of the court is expected by December 2013.
He said Pakistan has objected on freeboard, magnitude of pondage and placement of spillway of Ratle Hydroelectric plant of 850 megawatts, Miyar Hydroelectric Plant of 120 megawatts, Lower Kalnai plant of 48 megawatts and Pakal Dul Hydroelectric Plant of1000 megawatts located on Chenab river.
These objections were discussed before in two meetings of the Permanent Indus Commission in March and September and will finally be discussed in the next meeting of the Commission likely to be held in December 2013. Pakistan and India are members of the Commission.
Another disputed water project between India and Pakistan is Wullar barrage and during the sixth round of secretary level talks, it was agreed that the Indian side will provide additional technical data to Pakistan.
Pakistan will examine the data to furnish its views before the next round of the talks.
Pakistan had objected that according to the treaty India is not allowed to store water on main Jhelum. The work on the project is suspended since 1987 and it was last verified on May 30, 2013.