Jammu and Kashmir Wants Review Of Water Pact With Pakistan
7 March 2000
Jammu: There are renewed calls for a review of the four-decade-old Indus Water Sharing Treaty with Pakistan as Jammu and Kashmir feels the pact has forced the State to give up its rights on the huge economic potential of its water resources. The treaty gives Pakistan rights over the waters of the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab rivers - all of which flow from Jammu and Kashmir into Pakistan - in exchange for complete Indian control over the Sutlej, Beas and Ravi, the three rivers flowing into Punjab. The pact was signed in 1960 in Lahore, Pakistan. J&K feels its interests have been hurt on two counts. First, it cannot use the waters of the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab. Second, it fails to get any compensation for the power generated from the three rivers on which India exercises control. State Finance Minister Abdul Rahim, while presenting the Budget for the year 2000-2001 in the Legislative Assembly on Monday, lamented that one major resource which could have helped the State overcome its financial distress is not under its control. ''Our rights on this resource have been signed away through the Indus Water Treaty without the interests of the state being in any way secured or compensation paid to us,'' he said. ''The unlimited potential in the power sector that our waters could guarantee has been severely restricted,'' he said. ''Against an identified potential of 15,000 megawatt (MW) in the State, the generation at present is a mere 1,500 MW, most of which again is not available to our homes and factories,'' he said. The National Hydro-electric Projects Corporation (NHPC) has constructed two major power plants in J&K - Salal on the river Chenab and Uri on the river Jhelum. The State gets only 12 per cent of the more than 1,300 MW generated as royalty. The NHPC did not pay even the cess of 50 paisa per unit generated by these projects as was envisaged in last year''s budget, thus depriving J&K of Rs 1.75 billion of revenue that it had hoped to generate through this source. This is not the first time that the State leaders have called for a review of the Indus Water Treaty. Former State Finance Minister Mohammad Shafi, who now looks after education, had in his Budget speech in 1999 said: ''The State of J&K needs to be compensated for the sacrifice it has to make in the national interest.'' ''This treaty is becoming a nightmare,'' Chief Minister Farooq Abdullah once said, referring to the fact that a power project at Wullar barrage was stalled because Pakistan raised objections to it under the water sharing pact.