May 2005 News

Pakistan’s concerns carry weight, says Indian expert: Baglihar dam

20 May 2005
The Dawn
Sabihuddin Ghausi

Bhurban: Ramasawamy R. Iyer, an Indian water management expert and well- known scholar, has conceded that many of Pakistan’s concerns on the Baglihar dam in occupied Kashmir are “legitimate and carry weight”. However, he said that Bagliar dam was in no way a contravention of the 1960 Indus Basin Treaty which allowed India to take up projects on three Pakistani rivers provided they did not serve to divert the flow of water into Indian territory or to create water storage. “The treaty precludes the construction of any storage by India on Chenab and Jehlum, but gives some allowance on a very limited extent,” he argued. Mr Iyer was in Bhurban along with parliamentarians and journalists of India and other Saarc countries. He presented his research paper, “Water in South Asia inter-country relations”, at one of the sessions of the five-day meeting organized by the South Asia Free Media Association (Safma). Mr Iyer is a former union secretary of water resources and is currently a research professor at the Dehli-based Centre for Policy Research. In an interview with Dawn, he spoke at length on the water management issue in South Asia with specific reference to the two most controversial dams in India and Pakistan, the Baglihar on Chenab in Kashmir and the Kalabagh on Indus in Pakistan. Mr Iyer was of the view that the expert chosen by the World Bank to arbitrate on the Baglihar dam dispute was expected to give weight to objections raised by Pakistan and likely to ask India to change the design to bring it in conformity with the provisions of the Indus Basin Treaty. Under the treaty, he said, three Western rivers — Chenab, Jehlum and Indus — are allocated to Pakistan and India is not allowed to build storages on them. “The conventional engineering view is that a diversion barrage or a run of the river hydro-electric generation project does not create any storage,” he made his point. The Baglihar dam is a run of the river hydro-electric project and it is India’s responsibility to establish that it will neither reduce the flow of water in Pakistan nor divert the flow of water in Indian territory. He agreed that the concerns being raised by Sindh on the Kalabagh dam on River Indus were identical to those raised by Pakistan on India on the Baglihar dam. He also endorsed the concern of the NWFP on the level of the Kalabagh dam that threatens its urban centres. When it was pointed out that India had water distribution problems with all its neighbours on the upper or the lower riparian of the system, he said “Water distribution problem is a global issue.” Mr Iyer said India and all its neighbours had seriously strived to find solutions. “We concluded Indus Treaty with Pakistan in 1960 and so far it has withstood stress and strains,” he said, adding that India had also concluded water agreements with Bangladesh and Nepal. “There are still some problems and these are being addressed.”

 

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