Archive for the ‘Water Dispute’ Category

India and Pakistan Feud Over Indus Waters

THE WALL STREET JOURNAL – WSL.com – ASIA NEWS – MARCH 30, 2010

 

Fight Threatens Peace Talks as Islamabad Requests Arbitration Over New Delhi’s Plans for a Hydroelectric Plant.  A feud over water between India and Pakistan is threatening to derail peace talks between the two neighbors.

By AMOL SHARMA in New Delhi and TOM WRIGHT in Lahore

The countries have harmoniously shared the waters of the Indus River for decades. A 50-year-old treaty regulating access to water from the river and its tributaries has been viewed as a bright spot for India and Pakistan, which have gone to war three times since 1947.

Now, the Pakistanis complain that India is hogging water upstream, which is hurting Pakistani farmers downstream. Pakistani officials say they will soon begin formal arbitration over a proposed Indian dam. At a meeting that started Sunday, Pakistan raised objections to new Indian dam projects on the Indus River and asked for satellite monitoring of river flows.

“Water I see emerging as a very serious source of tension between Pakistan and India,” said Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Pakistan’s foreign minister, in an interview Friday. He said he has raised the issue with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

A senior Indian government official denied India is violating the treaty. He blamed Pakistan’s water shortage on changing weather patterns and the country’s poor water management. He called the strident rhetoric from Pakistani officials a “political gimmick…designed to place yet one more agenda item in our already complex relationship.” Indian officials declined comment on the record.

The latest dispute revolves around India’s plans to build a 330-megawatt hydroelectric power project on the Kishenganga River, a tributary of the Indus. India says it is well within its rights to build the dam. The project has been on the drawing board since the late 1980s and is expected to cost about $800 million.

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Pakistan says New Delhi’s plans to divert the course of the river will reduce its flow by a third in the winter. That would make it unfeasible for Pakistan to move ahead with its own plans for a hydroelectric dam downstream.

Pakistan wants to put the Kishenganga project before an arbitration panel—the first time that mechanism of the treaty will have been used. If India agrees, a seven-person court of arbitration would include two members appointed by each country, and three outsiders. India hasn’t yet responded formally to the proposal, according to the Pakistan delegation to the meeting.

“We’re already a water-stressed country,” Jamaat Ali Shah, Pakistan’s Indus waters commissioner, said ahead of this week’s meeting. India’s construction of new dams is “aggravating the stresses.”

The water dispute comes as the relationship between the nuclear-armed neighbors is at an inflection point. India last month invited Pakistan to discuss the resumption of regular peace talks, and the two countries’ foreign secretaries met in Delhi Feb. 25. A water squabble could upset those peace efforts.

That would deal a major blow to Indian Prime Minister Singh, who views engagement with Pakistan as the best way to contain terrorism. Mr. Singh wants Pakistan’s aid in bringing to justice Pakistan-based militants that New Delhi believes carried out the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai, a bloody siege that killed 166 people.

Further deterioration of relations between New Delhi and Islamabad would also be a setback for Washington’s efforts to stabilize the region. Pakistan has told the U.S. that tensions with India on its eastern border over the disputed territory of Kashmir have prevented it from cracking down more aggressively on Taliban and al Qaeda leaders directing the insurgency in Afghanistan.

Islamist groups in Pakistan have taken up the water issue as a new focus. “If our government doesn’t act to resolve this issue then the people will take it in to their own hands. If water doesn’t flow in to these rivers, then blood will,” said Hafiz Khalid Waleed, the political affairs chief of Jamaat-ud-Dawah, an Islamic charity. India and others call the charity a front for Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group it says orchestrated the Mumbai terrorist attacks in Nov. 2008. Mr. Waleed denies any link to terrorism, calling it “American propaganda.”

Water scarcity is a growing political issue across the globe, from the Middle East to the U.S. West. South Asia’s water politics date back to Britain’s partition of the Indian subcontinent in 1947, when newly created nations India and Pakistan wrangled over how to divide resources.

The Indus River, whose waters Britain had harnessed through a vast system of irrigation canals, was a crucial lifeline to farmers in the Punjab region stretching across both countries. But India and Pakistan were fighting over control of Kashmir, where several Indus tributaries begin.

After years of tense negotiations, India and Pakistan signed the Indus Waters Treaty in 1960 with the help of the World Bank. As part of the treaty—which is widely viewed by water experts as a model of how water conflicts can be managed—each side got unrestricted use of three rivers and rights to use the others for nonconsumptive purposes such as flood control, navigation and bathing. India was granted limited agricultural usage of Pakistan’s rivers, plus the right to build hydroelectric projects, as long as they don’t store or divert large amounts of water.

The treaty provides for bureaucrats appointed by both governments to meet regularly, exchange data, and resolve disputes. Commissioners have held more than 200 site inspections and meetings since 1960, even during times of war.

Yet Pakistan’s rows with India have intensified as its water situation has worsened over the years. Water availability in Pakistan has fallen 70% since the early 1950s to 1,500 cubic meters per capita. It is expected to reach the 1,000-cubic-meter level considered officially “scarce” by international standards in 25 years, according to a report last year by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Pakistani officials acknowledge their water woes aren’t caused by India’s damming of rivers alone. Major reservoirs are filling with sediment picked up by the rivers on their routes to the sea. Canals are aging and breaking down. The World Bank says soil erosion and poor irrigation are sapping roughly 1% from Pakistan’s Gross Domestic Product growth.

Skeptics in India say Pakistan is simply looking for a scapegoat as it struggles to manage its internal water politics.

The especially arid province of Sindh, for example, blames the powerful upstream province of Punjab for consuming too much.

“Their water management is in terrible shape, and it’s convenient to put the onus on India,” said G. Parthasarathy, a former Indian envoy to Pakistan.

But Pakistani officials say New Delhi’s actions are exacerbating a precarious situation.

This year the Pakistan province of Punjab—the political heartland of the nation and a major producer of wheat, rice, maize and sugar cane—is facing unprecedented water shortages. At harvest time in Mandi Bahauddin, an area in the north of Punjab province of relatively prosperous farmland, the wheat still grows waist-high.

But farmers here complain that yields and incomes have dropped by a third in the past five years because of water shortages. In the past, canals used to supply water for irrigation year-round. They are now empty for about four months each year. That forces villagers to pump groundwater, which is fast turning brackish and causing diseases like hepatitis, said Tariq Mehmood Allowana, a local farmer and member of the provincial assembly.

In the past, the area’s only problem was regular flooding. India’s dams stopped this, causing a dearth of water instead, says Mr. Allowana, who owns 25 acres of wheat fields. The farmer represents the Pakistan Peoples Party of the late former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Farmers say they have stopped cultivating rice—a water-intensive crop—except for personal use. Nearby, more than half of the Chenab river bed has become a dusty plain where children play with the flow reduced to a trickle.

“India is engaged in an economic warfare against Pakistan. If the problem persists for another five years the whole area will become barren,” said Mr. Allowana, as a group of farmers nearby filled irrigation channels from groundwater supplies using a diesel-fueled pump.

Over the years, tensions have built as Pakistan has objected to the size and technical design of various Indian projects. India says it has 33 Indus-related hydrological projects at various stages of implementation, and all have been contested in one way or another by Pakistan. India also says it has yet to make use of its limited rights to store water on Pakistan’s rivers or use it for limited irrigation.

“We’ve found there’s a pattern in Pakistan of raising technical issues ad nauseam to stall a project or delay a project indefinitely,” the senior Indian official said Friday.

In 2005 Pakistan raised issues with the Baglihar dam, an Indian power project on the Chenab river—one of those allotted to Pakistan—saying it would store too much water upstream and reduce downstream flow to Pakistan. The countries agreed in 2007 to let the World Bank appoint an independent expert, who ruled that India had to make minor modifications to the dam, such as lowering its height. Pakistan now contends the dam, which began operations in 2008, is reducing the flow of the Chenab below levels stipulated in the treaty. India denies this.

Pakistan wants Washington to play a mediating role with India—in the water dispute and wider issues like the Kashmir conflict. The U.S. is pushing for tighter relations with Pakistan as it steps up pressure on the Taliban in Afghanistan but has to balance this with its close ties to India. For now, the U.S. is treading carefully, offering Pakistan stepped-up economic aid and military hardware supplies.

Pakistan raised the water issue in Washington during an official visit last week. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has signaled that Washington isn’t interested in mediating on water issues.

A State Department spokesperson pointed to an interview Mrs. Clinton recently did with a Pakistani news channel in which she said it would be “sensible” to stick to the Indus Waters Treaty for resolving disputes.

The Indian projects that Pakistan says are draining its water resources are primarily on Indus tributaries in Kashmir. Some experts say the water issue is a back door way for Islamic militants to push their political agenda regarding Kashmir.

“They’re saying, ‘We must liberate Kashmir to save our water,'” said B.G. Verghese, a veteran journalist who has studied water issues closely and is a visiting professor at the Center for Policy Research, a New Delhi think tank.

Write to Amol Sharma at amol.sharma@wsj.com and Tom Wright at tom.wright@wsj.com

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Concern over water conveyed to India

Post Source: Dawn – Staff Reporter

LAHORE, March 28: At the three-day annual talks on the Indus Waters Treaty which started here on Sunday, Pakistan raised its objections to construction of two new power projects on the Indus river by India. An Indian delegation led by G. Aranga Nathan handed over construction plans and maps of the Nimoo Bazgo power plant being built on the Indus to the Pakistani delegation led by Syed Jamaat Ali Shah.

It also gave a briefing on technical aspects of the project.

The Pakistani team expressed reservations on the Nimoo Bazgo and Chutak power plants and said it feared the Indian projects might obstruct smooth supply of water to Pakistan.

Both sides, however, agreed to keep the height of free board in Nimoo Bazgo project up to one metre.

The issue would be further discussed on Monday because the Indian team agreed to consider installation of telemetric system at the projects to allay Pakistan’s fears about alleged theft of water, but said a final decision would be taken after consultations with experts.

Mr Nathan said the objections raised by his Pakistani counterpart would also be discussed and another meeting could be convened soon if the two sides failed to resolve the dispute.

PPI adds: “We don’t believe in controversial steps and will try to remove all reservations of the Pakistani government,” Mr Nathan told reporters.

He said he was confident about the success of the dialogue and adding that his team was ready to address all concerns raised by the Pakistani Water Commission.

Mr Shah said the Indian commission had come to get Pakistan’s point of view and hoped that a positive development would follow.

“We will try to convince the Indian guests that all requirements of the treaty would be fulfilled,” he said.

Farmers to protest on border

 
LAHORE, March 28: Farmers will lodge a peaceful protest against violations of Indus Water Treaty on the 1,700km Indo-Pakistan border on Sept 19.

Pakistan Muttahida Kissan Mahaz president Ayub Khan Meo and Human Rights Movement president Nasir Iqbal Khan made the announcement while talking to newsmen at the Indus Water Treaty office here on Sunday.

They visited the office to present a memorandum to the visiting Indian Indus Water Treaty Commissioner Aranga Nathan.

They said India was required to inform Pakistan about its water projects on Chenab, Jhelum and Indus rivers under the Indus Water Treaty but it kept its plans secret so that Islamabad could not go for an arbitration. India was also building tunnels on the Indus near Kargil, at Kishan-Ganga on Neelam-Jhelum and near Bandipura on the Chenab to divert the flow. — Reporter

Vicious anti-India propaganda in Pakistan on Water issues

Post Source: Institute for Defence Studies & Analyses (IDSA) New Delhi

By Arvind GuptaMarch 29, 2010

Pakistani politicians, officials and media are in the grip of a vicious anti-India propaganda on water issues. General Ashfaq Kayani has stated that India will remain the focus of Pakistani military doctrine so long as Pakistan has unresolved issues with India. He included water and Kashmir among the unresolved issues. In its recent strategic dialogue with the United States, Pakistan also sought to involve the US in the resolution of India-Pakistan water issue.

The debate in Pakistan on India-Pakistan water issues has heated up. Water is being projected as an existential issue. India is being blamed for the water crisis in Pakistan. The key points of the debate are that India is violating the Indus Water Treaty, and that it is stealing Pakistan’s waters and turning Pakistan into a desert. An interesting nuance in the debate is that the water issue is even more important than the Kashmir issue. The talk of “water war” with India that could expand into a nuclear war is quite common. The following is a sampling of some recent comments made in the Pakistani media:

       Dawn quoted the former Foreign Minister Sardar Asif Ali as saying that “if India continues to deny Pakistan its due share, it can lead to a war between the two countries.” (18 January 2010)

       In a similar vein, PML(Q) Chief Chaudhary Sujat Hussain said that the water crisis between Pakistan and India could become more serious than terrorism and can result in a war (Dawn, 18 January 2010).

       Majid Nizami, Chief Editor of Nawi Waqt group of newspapers, said that “Pakistan can become a desert within the next 10 to 15 years. We should show upright posture or otherwise prepare for a nuclear war.” (Dawn, 18 January 2010).

       Politicians are ratcheting up the rhetoric. Members of the Punjab Assembly passed a resolution to deny India trade transit facility until the resolution of the Kashmir dispute and issues related to water distribution (Dawn, 27 January 2010).

       Member of the Punjab Assembly Warris Khalo said that India would “remain an enemy” until the Kashmir dispute and water issues are resolved. (Dawn 27 January 2010).

       Palwasha Khan, Member of National Assembly, accused India of perpetrating “water terrorism” against Pakistan and said that “experts foresee war over the water issue in the future and any war in this region would be no less than a nuclear war.” (Daily Times 17 February 2010).

       In a recent debate in Pakistan’s National Assembly, several members urged the government to impress on New Delhi “not to use” Pakistan’s share of water (Daily Times, 25 February 2010).

       Dr. Manzur Ejaz, a commentator, writing in Daily Times (3 March 2010) warned that “unless Pakistan was assured on the supply of water, it will never abandon the proxies that can keep India on its toes by destabilizing Kashmir.” He further added: “for Pakistan the territory of Kashmir may not be as important as the water issue.”

At the official level too, Pakistan is raising the salience of the water issue in India-Pakistan relations. Salman Bashir, Pakistan’s Foreign Secretary, was quoted by Dawn (26 February 2010) as saying that Pakistan had handed over some documents to the Indian side during the Foreign Secretary level talks with the hope that India would consider resolving the water issue within the Indus Basin Water Treaty. He added that India had been informed about its violation of the Indus Water Treaty, storage of water, India’s plans to build more dams, the Kishanganga Hydel project, pollution in the sources of water and glacier melt. Salman Bashir said, “Water is a very important issue for us and Pakistan wants constructive engagement with India.” (Dawn, 26 February 2010.)

President Zardari has, in the past, raised the water issue several times. In an op-ed article in Washington Post (28 January 2009), he wrote that the water crisis in Pakistan was directly linked to relations with India and if this was not resolved, it could fuel extremism and terrorism. Zardari had also taken up the water issue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in 2008 and complained that India’s diversion of water from the Chenab river was causing agricultural losses in several districts in Pakistan. Pakistan, according to media reports, has demanded compensation from India for the loss of agriculture due to diversion of waters.

The notable aspect about the Pakistani debate over water is that it is highly jingoistic and uninformed. The Indus Water Treaty of 1960 governs the sharing of waters between India and Pakistan. The Treaty, signed with the help of World Bank mediation, apportions the water between India and Pakistan. A significant feature of the Treaty was that it apportioned 80 per cent of the water of the Indus River Basin to Pakistan and only 20 per cent to India. This fact is never highlighted in the Pakistani discourse on the Indus Water Treaty. Pakistanis also conveniently ignore the fact that the Treaty gives India the right to construct run-of-the-river dams on the Western rivers (Indus, Chenab and Jhelum) as well as construction of 3.6 Million Acre Feet (MAF) of storage facilities. India has not yet constructed any storage dam on these rivers despite the fact that the Treaty permits it. This point is also overlooked in the Pakistani media. Nor has India used the full potential of irrigation from the Western Rivers as permitted under the Treaty.

The Pakistani debate is silent on the fact that even though the Treaty gives India the right to use the waters of the Eastern Rivers (Ravi, Beas, Sutlej), Pakistan is getting free 2 MAF of water through these rivers because India has not been able to fully utilize the waters of these rivers. The poor state of water structure on the Indian side has allowed this water to flow into Pakistan free.

A frequent Pakistani complaint is that India is “stealing” Pakistan’s water. But no evidence is given to support the allegation. Since India has not built any storage facilities, where would it store the water? Whatever water India takes from the Western rivers is for non-consumptive use allowed under the Treaty. The Pakistani Indus Commission is regularly supplied with the data on this score.

The Pakistani side has complained of the reduced flows of water in the Western rivers. The fact that there are seasonal variations in the flow of water due to differences in monsoon and glacial melt is normally ignored in the Pakistani discourse. Jamaat Ali Shah, the Head of Pakistan’s Indus River Commission, has stated in an interview that India and Pakistan should “look beyond” the Treaty to discuss such issues as the impact of climate change on water resources. Unfortunately, the Treaty, which is a technical document, does not envisage discussion on climate change or environmental issues as these were not issues in 1960.

Undoubtedly, climate change will emerge as a major factor affecting the health of glaciers and rivers in South Asia. India and Pakistan need to discuss these issues seriously. Instead, Pakistani politicians, media and military officers are fanning baseless anti-India rhetoric.

The Pakistani media is also dishing out ill-informed opinions on the Neutral Expert’s determination on the Baglihar dam. It may be recalled that India constructed the Baglihar dam on river Chenab. The dam became operational in 2008. However, the commissioning of the dam was delayed by Pakistan as it took the issue of the dam’s design to the Neutral Expert provided for in the Indus Water Treaty. The Neutral Expert upheld the design parameters of the Baglihar dam, particularly those relating to the location of “spillways”, “pondage” and height. The Neutral Expert stated clearly that sediment control, which dictated the design parameters, was crucial to dam construction. He also upheld India’s view that the first objective of “pondage”, to which Pakistan had objected, was to regulate the flow of the river to meet consumer demand.

Pakistan considers the waters of the Indus, Chenab and Jhelum as “its waters”. Pakistani jihadist groups routinely link jihad with struggle over water in Kashmir. Hafeez Saeed, chief of the Pakistani terrorist group Lashkar-e-Tayebba, has threatened jihad against India over water issues. The Pakistani media is silent on the fact that the people of Jammu and Kashmir regard the Indus Water Treaty as unfair since it places restrictions on the use of these waters. Thus, on one hand Pakistanis support the “freedom struggle” in Kashmir, while on the other they would deprive Kashmiris of the use of water in the Western rivers.

The Kishanganga hydroelectric project is the next point of contention likely to sour India-Pakistan relations. The Kishanganga river is a tributary of the Jhelum. It originates in Jammu & Kashmir, enters Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK) after Gurej, flows along the Line of Control (LoC) as the Neelum river and joins the Jhelum at Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir. India is planning to build a hydroelectric project on this river. It will be a run-of-the river project which will require diverting the water of the Kishanganga river through an underground tunnel. Pakistan has objected to the Kishanganga hydroelectric project. It is contemplating taking the issue to the Court of Arbitration and the Neutral Expert in accordance with the terms of the Indus Water Treaty. India is confident that it has a valid case on the Kishanganga project.

There appears to be a deliberate attempt in Pakistan to use the water issue to inflame public opinion against India. This appears to be a part of the larger design of the Pakistani military to drive home to Western interlocutors the continued salience of India in Pakistan’s security calculus. Though Pakistan is facing the prospect of destabilization due to radicalization of its society, the Pakistan Army continues to project India as the number one threat. The water issue is being used to divert attention from 26/11 and the larger issue of terrorism, which India regards as the main issue between India and Pakistan.

Political fallout of Punjab’s water crisis

Post Source: Dawn Economic and Business Review

By Ahmad Fraz Khan


RAJA RIAZ, who heads the PPP parliamentary party and holds two more provincial portfolios – the senior minister, next only to the chief minister, and provincial irrigation minister – on Thursday hosted an all-parties conference at the Punjab Assembly to strategise “how to meet water crisis in Punjab.” The convening of APC heralds a new path for the PPP, particularly for its provincial chapter. It also signifies changing political milieu in which the PPP and other parties have to operate in the most populated federating unit. Farmers from Punjab, who constitute around 68 per cent of the vote bank, are getting “exceedingly uneasy” with the current federal water policies.

They are becoming increasingly vocal, regularly taking to streets at local level and criticising all parties, which “fail to protect their water and, resultant, agriculture and economic right.” Their increasing belligerence has forced almost all political parties to calibrate their response to “escape wrath of politically-charged farmers.”

That is precisely the pressure which the PPP was trying to ward off by convening an APC on the issue, and looks alive to their plight. Otherwise, its provincial chapter has so far been blindly following the federal line of “total inactivity” on the issue.

The joint declaration, issued at the end of the conference, further expanded the political space, which the PPP provincial chapter was ready to concede: it demanded the “construction of Kalabagh dam after building national consensus.”

Whether the demand made by the provincial PPP chapter is a tactical move to “temporarily deflect growing political pressure or it indicates a strategic shift, remains to be seen.” The provincial chapter was, in fact, responding to the growing political pressure on the party for “working out a national water strategy, which protects Punjab’s water rights – as being popularly defined in the province. It is particularly true for the southern part, which, by and large voted for the PPP in last elections.”

The PPP, so far, has to face such pressure mainly from Sindh and, to a lesser extent, from Balochistan and the NWFP. It is for the first time that farmers from Punjab have started generating political heat on major parties to protect, what they perceive to be, their water right.

A more active Punjab voters clamouring for their water rights is a new phenomenon for the PPP to deal with. How it balances between its voters from Punjab and Sindh would be a big test for the party.

The parties now have to respond not only increasing domestic pressure, but the Indian tactics as well, which are worsening domestic scene.

The PPP, being the largest political party, will have to take a lead in this regard. It should realise that water crisis is not a provincial subject. Provinces suffer or benefit from federal policies but they do not execute them. As such, provincial crisis, be it of Sindh or Punjab, cannot be handled unless national picture improves, and every federating unit has something to get. If the provinces are left to share water poverty, crisis would not only go away but deepen. It is also not a Sindh, Punjab, Balochistan or NWFP crisis. The crisis is that of Pakistan, and the federation must deal with, taking provinces along.

Meanwhile, the forecasts, pouring in from all sides – from domestic to international experts – are becoming increasingly scary. The World Bank, the Asian Development Bank, the United Nations, all environmental agencies have put Pakistan in the danger zone. How the PPP government plans to deal with the scare, no one knows – so far at least.

The only dam which would probably be built in the foreseeable future is the Diamir-Bhasha. But its current time line creates more fear than hopes. It is expected to start storing water, if all goes well, by 2020. By that time, the country would have lost seven million acre feet of storage capacity, if 1976 storage (post-Tarbella) level is a benchmark. The dam will store only six million acre feet water. That means, that the country would not be able to restore water situation even in 2020, which it had achieved 44 years ago in 1976.

On the other hand, the current pattern of dams getting empty, only bringing drought closer to the country every passing year. For the last five years, the country’s largest dam, Tarbella, has been regularly hitting dead level by mid-March. It used to serve the country up to mid-June. The silt has eaten up three months’ irrigation supplies. Every year, ten days’ supplies are lost. In next five years, it would start hitting dead level by the end of January, leaving Sindh without last watering for its wheat, Punjab without last two watering for wheat and both without water for Kharif crops.

The Mangla Dam, which was raised by 30 feet by last year, has not been able to store more water because of the resettlement issues. During the last two years, the federal government has not been able to spare funds to move people living on the new lake level. This is despite the fact that the country had already invested over Rs80 billion on it but is not benefiting because it could not spare Rs8 billion to move people. This is suicidal, to say the least.

Farmers hold protests against ‘Indian water terrorism’

Post Source: By Dawn Reporter – Monday, 22 Mar, 2010 

LAHORE, March 21: Hundreds of farmers held a demonstration in Rampur village on the Pakistan-India border on Sunday in protest against what they called ‘Indian water terrorism’. The demonstration was organised by the Muttahida Kissan Mahaz. The farmers carrying banners and placards demanded that India be stopped from building dams in occupied Kashmir and depriving Pakistan of its share of water.

They adopted a resolution which called upon the government to move a resolution in the United Nations against ‘pilferage of river water by India’.

Addressing the protesters, Mahaz president Ayub Khan Mayo, provincial president Murad Khan Baloch and Civil Society Forum’s chairman Dr Shahid Raza said that India was building 40,241MW hydel power projects on the Jhelum and Chenab in occupied Kashmir which would destroy agriculture in Pakistan. They said that the construction of dams was in violation of the Indus Water Treaty.

They said that Pakistan should urge India to stop the ‘pilferage of river water’.

The farmers announced to hold demonstrations along the border on the day of the signing of the Indus Water Treaty on Sept 19 if their demand was not met.

Our Sialkot correspondent adds: The Kissan Wing of Jamaatud Dawa held a meeting in Daska on Sunday to create awareness about ‘Indian water aggression’. 

82 bonded labourers freed

 

Post Source: By Dawn Correspondent – Sunday, 21 Mar, 2010 

MIRPURKHAS, March 20: About 82 bonded labourers have been freed from the illegal captivity of three landlords, on the order of district and sessions judge of Mirpurkhas during the last 24 hours.

A complainant, Dayo Bheel, had submitted an application stating that 29 peasants, including women and children, were confined at the land of landlord Wazir Mari in the Phuladiyoon area. They were forced to work without payment and were not allowed to move freely.

He requested the court to order police to get the detained peasants released.

On the court order, the Phuladiyoon police raided the place and freed 29 detained bonded labourers on Friday.

A woman named Ms Jamni Kolhi had filed an application stating that her 12 relatives were being held as bonded labourers at the land of landlord Ayoub Mari in the Phuladiyoon area.

Police on Friday evening carried out a raid and recovered 12 bonded labourers, including women and children. On Saturday, Naukot police raided the land of Juma Khan Chandio and got released 41 bonded labourers. They were detained for three years.

Complainant Parbhu Kolhi had submitted an application to the district and sessions judge of Mirpurkhas, complaining that 41 peasants were detained at the land of Juma Khan. They were denied livelihood and right to move to other place.

He requested the court to order Naukot police for their recovery.

Police said that all the 82 released bonded labourers would be produced in the court on Monday.

Focus on micro hydropower projects

Post Source: Dawn Economic and Business Review – By Tahir Ali

BECAUSE of acute power-shortage and the government’s inability to execute big hydropower plans, the focus is shifting to realise the huge potential of small, mini and micro hydropower generation in the Frontier province. NWFP Chief Minister Amir Haider Khan Hoti has said that entire profit of net hydro-electricity would be spent on small hydropower generation schemes.

The NWFP government announced the power policy in 2001, under which various incentives for investors in mini/micro hydropower plants were spelt out such as selection of projects on first-come-first-served basis, simple procedures consisting of only registration and bank guarantees, fixed nominal lease money of Rs500/KW/annum, issuance of NOC within one month of registration and a three-year construction time limit for projects.

An independent “Energy and Power Department” has also been created to exploit the power potential in the province, including hydropower. However, private sector didn’t take full advantage of the opportunity for several reasons including law and order situation in the province and FATA.

Around 2,000 MHPPs have so far been installed throughout the province, FATA and the Northern Areas jointly by the Sarhad Hydro-Development Organisation (Shydo), Northern Areas Public Works Department and various NGOs and the private sector.

A European Union-funded project also established similar plants in upper Dir. The Pakistan Council for Renewable Technologies (PCRET) has installed nearly 300 MHPPs with a capacity of 3.5MW. Another project to build MHPPs on canal sites is under development. Most of these plants are operational in off-grid areas.

The mini/micro hydro power plants are cheaper in installation and maintenance. Distribution losses are least due to decentralised and local management. Its electricity can be utilised in domestic and small or medium-size industries. Being decentralised entities, MHPPs permit community participation in their initiation, operation and maintenance.

According to Wapda estimates, NWFP has 70,000 megawatt hydropower generation potential. The vast canal network and hilly terrain in NWFP provide thousands of sites for micro, mini and small hydropower plants. Depending upon the head and flow of water, suitable turbines can be utilised to generate electricity from a few KW to MW of electricity from these sites.

“Mini/micro HPPs can be installed at natural or manageable waterfalls which are in thousands in NWFP and FATA. A 50KW micro-power station can produce energy enough for around hundreds of households. People in upper Dir, Chitral, Swat and Shangla and Mansehra have installed hundreds of such plants for their energy needs,” said Najmul Hasan from Swat.

To encourage private investment in the sector, the government should simplify the process of establishing micro-power stations. Locally manufactured cheaper power turbines can make investment affordable. Local manufacturers of turbines need encouragement and technical support from the government and private sector.

Amir Zeb, who runs two MHPPs in Damorai and Shangla, said he was operating two plants for years now –one with a German-made turbine and the other manufactured locally. “Both have a capacity of 50KW each. The only difference between these two turbines is that the locally made turbine is cheaper by around 70 to 80 per cent. The latter had been installed in 1998 at a cost of Rs1.5 million while the former had cost around Rs15 million in early 1970s,” he said.

Gulazaruddin, a Mardan-based manufacturer of MHPPs, said: “The local 50KW micro-power station has a total installation cost of around Rs0.8 million. The price of Indonesian and Chinese turbines is Rs1.2-2.5 million respectively while the German-made turbine costs Rs5-7 million,” he said.

Mohammad Hussain, another manufacturer of MHPPs from Mardan, said they had so far manufactured and installed around 1,500 micro-power stations in various parts of the country contributing around 10MW. “We make MHHPs up to 300KW but can produce even of higher capacity if the government provides technical support,” he added.

The Pakistan Council for Renewable Technologies and other bodies are mostly using turbines which are made in local workshops without design or quality control facilities. Capacity building and public certification of these local turbines would improve their standing and buyers’ confidence creating international demand.

Javed Khatak, chief of Smeda (NWFP), said the government would promote local manufacture of turbines. “In the investment conference to be organisd soon by the provincial government, local technology including quality of these turbines would be highlighted. The government also plans to ensure their capacity enhancement in future,” he said.

Water dispute: MEA exposes Pak doublespeak

Post Source: Zeenews BureauCompiled by Ritesh K Srivastava

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

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New Delhi: Even as the governments of India and Pakistan continue to use diplomatic channels to resolve all issues of conflict, the issue of availability and equal distribution of water is threatening to undermine all efforts to reduce tensions between the two countries.

The two nuclear-powered states have locked horns over Himalayan water resources for long, as both India and Pakistan are agrarian economies and suffer due to depleting water resources, which in turn leads to food and energy shortages.
The hostile neighbours have held several rounds of composite dialogue in the past with an aim to resolve the water dispute. However, it still tops the agenda whenever the top brass of India and Pakistan start any exercise to improve bilateral ties.
India’s Ministry of External Affairs recently collected credible evidence, which suggests how the distribution of water from rivers flowing to Pakistan from Jammu and Kashmir has become a bilateral flashpoint these days.
The MEA document also shows how various elements in Pakistan are using this issue to push hatred towards India by propagating that New Delhi is deliberately depriving Islamabad of its share of water guaranteed under the international Indus Water Treaty and destroying its agrarian economy.

As the two nations get ready to hold the latest round of talks by the end of March to expedite the resolution of the water dispute, the MEA document further reveals that the political fraternity in Pakistan is highly divided on the issue and holds divergent views on the subject.

However, the Pakistani government attempts to challenge India at the international level on the issue of water distribution.

The MEA document, citing Indus Water Commissioner Sayyed Jamaat Ali Shah, says that the Pakistani official has admitted in his own country that all hydel projects built by India are in conformity with the Indus Water Treaty and implemented after obtaining necessary permissions.

Shah also agreed that the drought in Pakistan was not triggered by construction of dams by India, while stressing that the constant decline in the water level in the rivers was due to change in climatic conditions.

However, on a different occasion, Shah said that Islamabad was not bound to inform India about construction of dams and New Delhi also had no right to oppose any initiative for a third party mediation on the Indian Kishan-Ganga project.

Shah, while hinting at the proposed Pakistan-China joint venture in construction of dams, said that Islamabad wanted third party mediation since the Indo-Pak Commission had failed to resolve the issue.

Shah, while replying to a question, stated that the two sides wanted to resolve all water issues through negotiation in accordance with mechanism agreed upon in the Indus Water Basin Treaty.

As a guest speaker in a Radio Pakistan programme, Shah explained that the reduction in water towards Pakistan in recent days was due to hydro-metrology. He also held intensive irrigation regimes and poor drainage practices responsible for causing water-logging and soil salinity throughout Pakistan’s countryside.

He was responding to a report by the Planning and Development Division, which claimed that between 1997 and 2005, overall water availability decreased from 1,299 to 1,101m3 (cubic metres) per capita; another study puts that figure closer to 1,000m3.

The change in the weather has made the vast expanses of rich agricultural land in Pakistan too wet or salty to yield any meaningful harvest.

The admissions of top Pakistani officials are contrary to often repeated claims that India is responsible for the plight of farmers and poor harvest in the country.

The row over water distribution has echoed in Pakistan’s National Assembly from time to time.

Pakistan’s Federal Minister for Water and Electricity, Raja Pervez Ashraf recently informed the National Assembly that India is within its rights under the Indus Water Treaty to build dams on the Jhelum and Chenab Rivers.

In addition, he said that India possesses the right to make 13 lakh acres of land cultivatable and to store 2.85 MAF of water. He further said that the Baglihar Dam will not adversely impact Pakistan. He also said that when the water commission officials could not resolve the dispute, it was settled with the help of neutral and global water experts. He said after the Mangla and Tarbela dams, study for 31 small dams in provinces is now complete and tenders for 12 dams are also over.

MQM’s Ayyub Sheikh alleged that India was blocking Pakistani waters and was also persuading Afghanistan to build a dam in Kabul. On his turn, Abdul Sattar said that the Saraiki belt was facing acute water shortage and demanded that water be released from Punjab’s share to the Saraiki belt via Taunsa Pinjad. He warned that the Saraiki belt can turn into a barren patch of land if water is not released soon.
Another interesting aspect of the MEA report is that it showcases how banned militant outfit chiefs are trying to capitalise on this row and garner maximum public sympathy for their anti-India campaign.

The MEA quoted a report published in The Dawn, which said Jamat-ud-Dawah (JuD) chief Hafiz Saeed mobilized farmers from Punjab in Lahore on March 7 alleging that India was diverting waters to strangulate Pakistan.

However, in his venomous speech, Saeed mostly talked about how Muslims were being ill-treated in Kashmir, Ayodhya, Afghanistan etc. The JuD chief even went to the extent of accusing India of conspiring to create an inter-provincial war in Pakistan.

Central JuD leader Maulana Amir Hamza also endorsed Saeed’s opinion and said that India was instigating sectarian violence in Pakistan, but that Sindhis, Balochs, Pathans, Punjabis and Kashmiris were united and willing to make sacrifices against India. He said they rejected the Sindh Water Treaty, a statement which was met with loud shouts of support against India and the Sindh Treaty.

The Indus Water Treaty (1960)

Under the Indus Water Treaty (1960) – sponsored by the UK, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Canada – India and Pakistan were given control of three rivers each, originating from Jammu and Kashmir.

The World Bank-mediated agreement made a gentle attempt to let both adversaries share the available water resources by allotting the eastern rivers (Ravi, Sutlej and Beas) to India and the western rivers (Jhelum, Chenab and Sindh) to Pakistan.

However, India’s recent announcement to build water reservoirs on Kashmiri rivers has become a major bone of contention between the two nations.

India’s construction of a 450-megawatt Baglihar hydel project on the Chenab River, which flows from Jammu and Kashmir into Pakistan, has ignited a fresh war of words.

The 470-feet high, 317-meter wide dam, with a storage capacity of 15 billion cusecs of water, has significantly reduced water flow to agriculture-dependent Pakistan, as claimed by Pakistani officials.

Also, the age-old water dispute between Punjab and Sindh provinces of Pakistan has further complicated the issue. In a bid to resolve the issue, the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) recently released 5,000 cusecs of more water to Sindh and 2,000 cusecs more water to Punjab. As a result of the new deal, Punjab’s share of water has now gone up to 57,000 cusecs, while Sindh’s has gone up to 40,000. In addition, IRSA has allowed Punjab to take an additional 2,000 cusecs from Thal.

Pakistan blames India, saying it is withholding millions of cubic feet of water upstream on Chenab in Kashmir and storing it in the massive Baglihar Dam in order to produce hydro-electricity. Pakistan has termed the construction of Baglihar Dam a breach of the 1960 Indus Water Treaty designed to administer water use in the region.

However, as the situation stands, Pakistan is weighing its options of filing simultaneous complaints with the World Bank and seeking mediation by the International Court of Arbitration against India for violating the Treaty, citing unauthorised use of Chenab river.

India, on its part, has been reiterating its stand that any decline in flow of water towards Pakistan is “purely due to the climatic effect which impacts the entire region”, while denying any theft on its part.

After several consultations, composite dialogue, coupled with widespread protests both in India and Pakistan, the row over the distribution of water still remains unresolved. While India has invited Pakistan for crucial talks over controversial projects including Baglihar and Kishenganga, the situation also warrants the two sides to be vigilant in not allowing the non-state actors to succeed in their nefarious designs shielding themselves under bureaucratic war of words.