Published On : Sat, Feb 23rd, 2019

Can India really stop flow of river waters to Pakistan?

Nagpur: The social media, news channels and websites went agog when the Union Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday tweeted “Under the leadership of Hon’ble PM Sri @narendramodi ji, Our Govt. has decided to stop our share of water which used to flow to Pakistan. We will divert water from Eastern rivers and supply it to our people in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab.”

The crux of the matter was that angry India, in the aftermath of deadly terror attack in Pulwama in which 45 jawans of CRPF were martyred, is stopping flow of waters of the Ravi, Sutlej and Beas from flowing to Pakistan by diverting it to Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab. According to the 1960 Indus Water Treaty with Pakistan, the waters of these rivers are assigned entirely for use by India.

However, the pertinent question here is: Will it be possible? The answer is between half truth and half falsehood.

Water Treaty between India and Pakistan:
At the time of Partition, India and Pakistan had negotiated an accord over sharing of waters.This accord is called Indus Water Treaty. There are total six rivers flowing to Pakistan from India namely Sindhu, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Satluj. These rivers have been divided in two parts – East and West. Waters of first three rivers in West – Sindhu, Jhelum and Chenab – will be used by Pakistan. And India will use waters of rivers in East – Ravi, Beas and Satluj. Now what happens is that Pakistan uses its share of water in full but India could not use its share of waters in totality. Hence the waters flow to Pakistan, naturally.

Now, will India stop flow of this water to Pakistan over Pulwama attack?
The answer is India is certainly drawing a plan to stop flow of water. But the reason is not Pulwama attack. The Union Minister Nitin Gadkari, on January 11, 2019, had signed a MoU with six Chief Ministers on Renukaji Multipurpose Dam. This dam is being constructed in Upper Yamuna Basin. The MoU was signed by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, and Himachal Chief Minister Jairam Thakur.

During the signing of this MoU, Gadkari had said, “After the Indus Water Treaty, India could use only 93-94 percent of its share of waters. Rest of the water flows down to Pakistan. Following attack in Uri in 2016, it was decided that India’s share of water whoch flows down to Pakistan, will be stopped in India itself. Three projects were started for this purpose. The first is Shahpur Kandi Dam, second is Satluj-Beas Link in Punjab and third is Unjh Dam Project in Jammu and Kashmir.”

This announcement by Gadkari was made a month before Pulwama attack. Such kind of announcement by Gadkari was also made on March 27, 2018. He had said that India is constructing three dams for stopping flow of unused water to Pakistan.

It clearly means that India is planning to stop flow of its share of water to Pakistan. But the reason is not Pulwama terror attack. It is the attack in Uri in 2016. Whether it is plan to construct dams for stopping water or surgical strike, all these moves are aimed at exerting pressure on Pakistan. The moves are appreciable but why now. It could have been done years ago. But presenting now in the name of revenge over martyrdom of 45 jawans could be a way of fetching votes.

Rubbish to think of leaving Pakistan thirsty:
Approximately 170 TMC of water flows in these six rivers of India and Pakistan. Out of this around 135 TMC water flows in Pakistan alone. Thus India receives a meagre 35 TMC water. Furthermore, out of 135 TMC water, Pakistan lets 40 TMC water flow out for no reason. On the other hand, India receives 35 TMC water and can flow maximum 10 TMC water into its rivers. This will not affect Pakistan in hard way. India has no capabilities and capacities to stop flow of water to Pakistan.

‘Cheap politics’: BJP’s posters mislead people in Nagpur:
The Bharatiya Janata Party which has been telling not to play politics in the name of martyred jawans and security of the nation has itself gone on bragging spree and indulging in cheap politics over Pulwama terror attack and India’s move to stop flow of water to Pakistan. The party has put up posters hailing Union Minister Nitin Gadkari’s announcement that India has stopped waters of the Ravi, Sutlej and Beas from flowing to Pakistan by diverting it to Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab. The waters of these rivers are assigned entirely for use by India.

The posters put up by BJP at many places including the premises of RSS Headquarters hailed Nitin Gadkari and Prime Minister Narendra Modi. However, the “Posterbaaji” of the BJP is drawing sharp criticism from various quarters and is being called as cheap politics.