Indus Waters Treaty: View From Kashmir

Prof. K. Warikoo

1 June 2006

With Pakistan securing World Bank's intervention by having appointed a neutral expert, Raymond Lafitte from Switzerland, to adjudicate its dispute with India over the  450 MW Baglihar hydropower project on the Chenab river in doda district of Jammu and Kashmir, the 45  years old Indus Waters Treaty has once again come into the focus of national and international attention. It is for quite some time that the Indus Waters Treaty, which was signed by India and Pakistan in September 1960 after more than eight years of negotiations to resolve the dispute over the usage for irrigation and hydel power of the waters of the Indus water system, has been publicly denounced by the Jammu and Kashmir government for being "discriminatory" to the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir.1

On 3 April 2002, the Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly, cutting across party affiliations, called for a review of the Treaty.  Speakers who denounced the Treaty ranged from the National Conference's G. M. Bawan to the Bhartiya Janata Party's Shiv Charan Gupta and Communist Party of India Marxist leader Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami.The State government has been contending that in spite of having an untapped hydro-electric potential of 15,000 MW, the State has been suffering from acute power deficiency due to restrictions put on the use of its rivers by the Indus Treaty.  And when the State Chief Minister, or his officials point to the losses accrued to the State by virtue of this Treaty, they are not indulging in any rhetoric.  In fact their views that the requirements of the J&K State were not taken into account while negotiating the Treaty with Pakistan are shared largely by the intellectual, media and public circles in Jammu and Kashmir.  Not only that, some people even stretch it further suggesting that the central government has been insensitive to the State's problems.  Pakistan's action is seen to be obstructing the agro- economic development of Jammu and Kashmir State.  The State Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Syed and other political leaders have appealed to Pakistan to facilitate the economic growth of Jammu and Kashmir by not raising objections to hydro power projects in the state under the Indus Treaty provisions.

It is against this background that this paper seeks to have a relook at the Indus  Waters Treaty.  That the Treaty has been in force for nearly 45 years is a considerable period for making an appraisal whether the Treaty really served the larger purpose of bringing India-Pakistan amity and cooperation on other fronts.

The Indus Basin
The Indus system of rivers comprises of the main river Indus, Known as the river Sindhu in Sanskrit, and its five Tributaries from the east, the Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Sutlej and the Beas, and three tributaries from the west, the Kabul, Swat and the Kurram rivers. 3  The great Indus river is 2880 Kms. long and the length of its tributaries as mentioned above is 5600 Kms. 4 Historically, India has been named after this great river-Indus.  The main Indusl river rises in the Kailas range in southwestern Tibet.  In Ladakh, it is joined by its first tributary, the Zanskar river and continuing for about 150 miles the Indus is joined by the Shyok river.  Then Shigar, Gilgit and other streams join the river.  The Shigar joins the Indus near Skardu in Baltistan.  The Gilgit stream joins it farther down at Bunji. Some miles further downstream, the Astor river joins the Indus, which then crosses the Kashmir territory and enters Pakistan.  The Kabul river which is joined by the waters of Swat in Peshawar valley, joins the Indus just above Attock.  The Indus then receives from the east, the river of Punjab - the Jhelum, the Chenab, the Ravi and the Sutlej.  The river Jhelum originates in Verinag in the valley of Kashmir and after flowing through Jammu province enters Pakistan.  The Chenab river rises in Lahoul in Himachal Predesh State of India and after flowing through Jammu province enters Pakistan.  The Ravi river rises near Kulu in Himachal Pradesh and flowing thorugh Punjab before entering Pakistan.  River Beas rises in Himachal Pradesh and flows wholly within India. After receiving the waters of the Punjab rivers, "the Indus becomes much larger and during July-September, it is several miles wide".5 According to a study made in Pakistan, the Indus river carries about 144 billion cubic yards, which is more is more than half of the total supply of water in the Indus River system."6  Whereas the Jhelum and Chenab combined carry roughly one-fourth, the Ravi, Beas and the Sutlej combined constitute the remainder of the total supply of the system that is nearly one-fourth.

Though the Indus basin is known to have practised irrigation since ancient times, it were the British who developed and elaborate network of canals in the Indus system of rivers. However, their emphasis was that lands belonging to the Crown received such irrigation so that the British Indian government would earn revenue from water cess as well as from the sale of crown waste lands.7  In this manner, the Indus system water were used to irrigate annually about 23.4 million acres in the Indus plains and 2.6 million acres above the rim stations before partition.8

Partition and its aftermath
Immediate aftermath of the partition of the Indian sub-continent and the creation of two Dominions of India and Pakistan in 1947 was that bulk of the irrigation canals developed on the Indus system went to Pakistan.  Out of 26 million acres of land irrigated annually by the Indus canals, 21 million acres lay in Pakistan and only 5 million acres in India.9  As per the 1941 census, the population dependent on the Indus system waters was 25 million in Pakistan and 21 million in India.10 Besides, India had "another 35 million acres of lands crying out for irrigation from the Indus basin sources".11 Thus the partition gave independent India much less undeveloped area inspite of the fact that it was an upsteam country with control over Ravi, Beas, Sutlej, Jhelum and Chenab.  India had not only to cater to the food requirements of 21 million people but also those millions who migrated from irrigated areas in West Punjab and Bahawalpur, now in Pakistan, all of whom were dependent on the Indus waters.

The dispute over sharing of  Indus waters came to fore immediately after partition because the existing canal headworks of Upper Bari Doab Canal UBDC and Sutlej Valley canals fell in India State of East Punjab, while the lands being irrigated by their waters fell in Pakistan West Punjab and Bahawalpur State. In order to maintain and run the existing systems as before partition, two Standstill Agreements were signed on 20 December 1947 by the Chief Engineers of East Punjab and West Punjab.  These interim arrangements were to expire on 31 st March 1948, after which East Punjab started asserting its rights on its waters.  It was on 1 April 1948 that the East Punjab Government in control of the head works at Madhopur on the Ravi and at Ferozpur on the Sutlej, cut off water supplies to the canals in Pakistan fed by these head works, after the Standstill agreements expired on 31 March 1948.

In fact, East Punjab had formally notified West Punjab on 29 March 1948 that the 'Standstill Agreements' would expire on 31st March, and had accordingly invited the Chief Engineers of West Punjab to Shimla for negotiating an agreement of resumption water supplies. 12 According to Rushbrook Williams, the water supplies were cut because "the canal colonies in Pakistan served by these head works did not pay the standard water dues.  The people incharge of the head works were applying exactly the same kind of sanction that they would have applied in undivided India - no canal dues, no water."13  The Chief Engineers of the two Punjabs met in Shimla and on 18 April 1948 concluded two agreements which were to take effect from the date of their ratification by the Dominions of India and Pakistan.  Finally at the inter- Dominion Conference on 3 May 1948 at Delhi the matter came up for discussion.  It was on 4 May 1948 that an agreement was reached after a meeting at Nehru's instance between the Indian Prime Minister and Pakistan's Finance Minister, Ghulam Mohd. By the Delhi Agreement of 4 May 1948, East Punjab agreed not to withhold water from West Punjab without giving the latter time to tap alternative sources.  On its part West Punjab recognized "the natural anxiety of the East Punjab."14  As regards the payment of seigniorage charges to East Punjab, the West Punjab government agreed to deposit immediately in the Reserve Bank of India."15  It may be pointed out that the British Province of Punjab recovered, before partition, from Bikaner State seigniorage charges for the supply of water to the State in addition to proportionate maintenance costs etc. of the Ferozepore headworks and of the feeder canal.16 East Punjab now wanted to recover a similar charge for water supplied to West Punjab.

Though this agreement was not final, it did provide some basis for dealing with the vexed problem.  But soon it was found that Pakistan was unwilling to stick to the agreement, as it was seeking to use the Indus water dispute as a political tool in the battle over Kashmir being fought at the United Nations.  Pakistan also sought to create anti-India hysteria in Pakistan over this issue.  As such Pakistan unilaterally abrogated the May 1948 Agreement saying that it was signed "under duress".17 Besides, Pakistan refused to pay the dues to India even after a year of the agreement.18  Pakistan now asked for a reference to the International Court of Justice for final verdict, which was objected to by India.  Pakistani media and politicians launched a campaign over the issue of canal waters dispute to create a scenario of serious crisis in Indo-Pakistani relations.  All along Pakistan's policy was to seek third party adjudication, which India was opposing.

The Lilienthal Proposal and World Bank Initiative
It was in this atmosphere of mutual distrust and contrived tensions, that David E. Lilienthal, formerly Chairman of the Tenessess Valley Authority and the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission visited India and Pakistan in February 1951 on a supposedly private visit.  Before embarking upon this visit Lilienthal had met the then U.S.  President Truman, the U.S. Secretary of State, Dean Acheson, Pakistan's Foreign Minister, M. Zafrulla Khan and Secretary General of Pakistan's Delegation to the U.N., Muhammad Ali.19 While in India, Lilienthal was guest of Prime Minister Nehru and he also held talks with Sheikh Abdullah on Kashmir.  In Pakistan, Lilienthal discussed with Prime Minster Liaquat Ali Khan, Kashmir and the "economic warfare" between India and Pakistan.  Liaquat Ali was reported to have told Lilienthal that "unless the Kashmir issue is settled it is unreal to try to settle the issue about water or about evacuees".20  On his return to America, Lilienthal wrote an article titled Another "Korea" in the Making analysing the Indo-Pakistani relations.  He prefaced his article with a loaded comment : "India and Pakistan are on the edge of war over which shall possess Kashmir - a fight the U.S. might be forced to enter....The direct issue is whether the historic region of Kashmir and Jammu shall be part of India or Pakistan.  On one of this disputed region's frontiers lies Red China, on another Red Tibet.  Along another frontier is Soviet Russia".21 Explaining the importance of the Indus waters for ensuring food security to millions of people in India and Pakistan, Lilienthal proposed that the canal waters dispute could be solved by India and Pakistan by working out a program jointly to develop and operate the Indus basin river system.  He wrote : "Jointly financed perhaps with World Bank help an Indus Engineering Corporation, with representation by technical men of India, Pakistan and the World Bank, can readily work out an operating scheme for storing water wherever dams can best store it, and for diverting and distributing water".22  Lilienthal, who appeared to be concerned about the presence of Communist China and Soviet Union on the borders of Kashmir, was hoping to become the head of the proposed Indus Engineering Corporation.23 Whereas Lilienthal sent copies of his article to the Indian Ambassador and the Pakistani Counsel on the water dispute, he also persued the proposal with the U.S. State Department.

Interestingly around the same time, Eugene R. Black, then President of the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Washington World Bank and a close friend of David Lilienthal24 became interested in the Lilienthal proposal.  In September 1951, World Bank formally offered its good offices to both India and Pakistan to work out a solution of  the Indus waters issue on the basis of Lilienthal proposals.  The World Bank offer was conditioned by the 'essential principle' that "the problem of development and use of Indus Basin water resources should be solved on a functional and not a political plan without relations to past negotiations and past claims, and independently of political issues".25

Both countries accepted the suggestion after the World Bank President, Eugene Black personally net both the Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers.  By May 1952 the first of the long series of conferences opened at Washington which were continued at Karachi and Delhi. But it soon became clear that Lilienthal's proposal of a joint Indus Engineering Corporation could not be realised.  Instead it was found necessary to replace the existing supplies from alternative sources.  So in February 1954 the World Bank officals proposed to India and Pakistan, the division of rivers.  "The three eastern rivers Ravi, Beas and Sutlej would be available for the exclusive use and benefit of India, after a specified transitionary period.  The Western rivers Indus, Jhelum and Chenab would be available for the exclusive use and benefit of Pakistan, except for the insignificant volume of Jhelum flow presently used in Kashmir... Each country would construct the works located on its own territories which are planned for the development of the supplies.  The costs of such works would be borne by the country to be benefitted thereby".26  Whereas India accepted the World Bank proposals, inspite of its sacrifices, Pakistan vacillated and accepted 'in principle' only after the Bank pressed her for a reply.  In his letter of 22 March 1954 to the World Bank President, Prime Minister of India while conveying his general acceptance to the principles governing the Bank proposals as the basis of agreement stressed that : "the actual agreement which would be worked out with the assistance of the Bank authorities will naturally deal with number of details including the question of the small requirements of Jammu and Kashmir."27  On the other hand, Pakistan continued to ask for clarification of details and further technical studies, thereby taking several years in the negotiations.

India's acceptance of the World bank proposals was based on the hope that in five years' time India would be able to make use of  the waters of the eastern rivers.  This was, however, frustrated by Pakistani procrastination.  Pakistan was seeking a comprehensive replacement-cum-development programme in Pakistan involving high investment of about 1.12 billion US dollars.28  And  in 1959 the World Bank USA and certain western countries became ready to foot the bill for this huge construction programme in Pakistan, so that the vexed canal waters dispute between India and Pakistan could be solved.  It was on 1 March 1960 that the World Bank made a public announcement of the financial plan it had evolved for the replacement and development works of the Indus system.  It was estimated to cost about 1000 million dollars partly in foreign exchange and partly in local currencies.  The Bank announced  that the requisite expenditure would be contributed by Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Germany, United Kingdom, United States, the World Bank besides the contributions by India and Pakistan.  Ironically as it may sound, the bulk of this financial plan was meant to be spent in Pakistan 691 million dollars out of 747 millions of grants and loans with India getting only 56 million dollars as loan for the Beas Dam, as against Pakistan getting all her development underwritten by the Bank's financial plan.29  Besides, the World Bank press release did not mention about the additional U.S. grant of 235 million dollars in local currency. 30 Yet, India stuck to its commitment to conclude the Indus Waters Treaty based on the World Bank proposals.  And the Treaty was duly signed on 19 September 1960 at Karachi by Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime Minister of India, President Ayub Khan of Pakistan and W.A.B. Iliff of the World Bank.

The Treaty
The main features of the Treaty are as follows :31

(i) The waters of the three eastern rivers - the Ravi, the Beas and the Sutlej - would be available for unrestricted use by India, after a transition period.

(ii) The waters of the three western rivers-the Indus, the Jhelum and the Chenab - would be allowed to flow for unrestricted use by Pakistan except for some limited use such as a domestic use, b non-consumptive use, c agricultural use, d generation of hydro-electric power run-of-river-plants in Kashmir.

(iii) During the transition period of ten years, India would continue to give Pakistan some supplies from the eastern rivers, in accordance with detailed regulation set out in the Treaty.  The period may be extended at Pakistan's request up to a maximum of another three years.  If so extended, India would deduct from its contribution Rs. 4.16 crores for one year's extension and Rs. 8.54 crores for two years' extension and Rs. 13.13 crores if the extension is sought for three years.

(iv) Pakistan would build works in the transition period to replace, from the western rivers and other sources, waters she used to get in her canals from the eastern rivers.

(v) Non-consumptive use, domestic use etc. would be permitted in all the rivers by both the countries, but such use should not in any way affect the flow of rivers and channels, to be used by the other party.

(vi) India would contribute in ten equal annual instalments the fixed sum pf Pounds Sterling 62,060,000 to the Indus Basin Development Fund towards the cost of replacement works in Pakistan.

(vii) Both countries have recognised their common interest in the optimum development of the rivers, and declared their intention to co - operate by mutual agreement to the fullest possible extent.

(viii) The tow countries would regularly exchange data regarding the flow in and utilisation of waters of the rivers.
ix APermanent Indus Commission would be constituted with the Commissioners for Indus Waters of the two countries- a post which should be filled by a high-ranking engineer competent in the field of hydrology and water use.  Each Commissioner will be the representative of his Government of consideration of all matters arising out of the Treaty.  The purpose and functions of the Indus Commission would by "to establish and maintain cooperative arrangements for the implementation of this Treaty and to promote cooperation in the matter of development of the rivers".

(x) If the Indus Commission fails to reach agreement on any matter pertaining to the Treaty it would be referred to a Neutral Expert.  If the difference is in the nature of a dispute and the Netural Expert certifies it to be so, the matter would be dealt with by the two Governments and might be referred to a Court of Arbitration.

(xi) Nothing contained in the Treaty, and nothing arising out of the execution thereof shall be construed as constituting a recognition or waiver whether tacit, by implication or otherwise of any rights or claims whatsoever of either of the parties.

Critical Review
The Indus Treaty was signed by Nehru in the fervent hope of ushering all round  improvement in India-Pakistan relations and resolution of all outstanding problems including Kashmir.  Perhaps Nehru was impressed by Ayub's offer of joint defence with India made in early 1959 in the wake of deteriorating India-China relations.32  Ayub's offer, however, needed to be viewed in the light of Pakistan being a member of SEATO and CENTO, which made him susceptible to western prescriptions for regional peace and cooperation. At that time the U.S. and its friendly western nations viewed the Communist Block - USSR and China, as a greater threat. Although India did not accept the concept of joint defence, it sought to improve relations with Pakistan by agreeing to substantially pay for the cost of irrigation programme in Pakistan, besides surrendering the use of three western rivers.  India treated the Indus waters issue as a technical and engineering problem.  On the other hand Pakistan exploited it as a political weapon in her cold war against India. At the same time Pakistan succeeded in extracting huge financial assistance of about one billion dollars from the World Bank, USA and other western countries, using the geopolitical environment in the region to its advantage.

Nehru went to Karachi on 19 September 1960 to sign the Treaty hoping to begin a new chapter in the history of Indo-Pak relations.  Though the joint communique issued at the end of Nehru-Ayub talks on 23 September 1960, revealed little progress on Kashmir, both sides agreed to work for promotion of friendly and cooperative relations and resolve the outstanding differences.  However, Pakistan did not hide its disappointment that there was no progress over Kashmir.  The Pakistani press continued to harp on the theme of "free and impartial plebiscite to determine the choice of the people of Kashmir."33  On the other hand, Indian press highlighted the positive aspects of the joint communique. Times of India even suggested that, "in the interests of a lasting settlement this country may be prepared eventually to accept the status quo in the State and agree to slight changes in the present ceasefire line to make it a viable international frontier."34  Hardly a month had lapsed after Nehru's visit to Karachi, and President Ayub of Pakistan speaking at a public meeting in Muzaffrabad Pak occupied Kashmir in early October 1960 declared that "Pakistan could not trust India until the Kashmir question was settled and that the Pak army could never afford to leave the Kashmir issue unsolved for an indefinite period."35  In this  way Indian hopes of building up mutual trust and confidence with Pakistan were belied.  What followed is too well known to be repeated.  Pakistan launched Operation Gibralter in 1965 to wrest Kashmir.  There was yet another war in 1971 and ever since 1989 Pakistan has been engaged in deadly proxy war against India in Kashmir and elsewhere.  And in 1999 India had to encounter the Pakistani armed intrusion in Kargil.

As such Nehru's assertion in the Lok  Sabha on 30 November 1960 that "we purchased a settlement, if you like; we purchased peace to that extent and it is good for both countries",36 was not borne out by the subsequent events.  Members of Parliament belonging to both the Congress, PSP and Jana Sangh pointed to the glaring mistakes committed in conclusion of this Treaty.  Congress MPs from Pubjab and Rajasthan, Iqbal Singh and H.C. Mathur called the treaty disadvantageous to India stating that both their home states "had been badly let down". 37 Ashok Guha, another Congress Mp lamented that "interests of India had been sacrificed to placate Pakistan".  Ashok Mehta, leader of the PSP in the Lok Sabha described it as a "peculiar treaty under which Pakistan, already a surplus area, would be unable to make full use of her share of the Indus Water and would have to allow it to flow into the sea.  On the contrary, India after the fullest development of the water resources, would still be short of supplies".38  But Nehru's efforts of creating goodwill and understanding with Pakistan by giving concessions through the Indus Treaty, did not bear fruit.  That Nehru himself had realised this soon after, is confirmed by N.D. Gulhati, who led the Indian delegation during the negotiations over Indus.  Gulhati recalls : "When I called on the Prime Minister on 28th February 1961, my last day in office, in a sad tone he said, 'Gulhati, I had hoped that this agreement would open the way to settlement on other problems, but we are where we were".39

In retrospect, it can he stated that India was too generous to Pakistan, both in terms of allowing use of waters of western rivers and by making payment of more than 62 million Pounds Sterlingi.e. about 430 crores of rupees in current value to Pakistan.  It is also surprising as to why World Bank advanced such disproportionate proposals to India,"particularly when the eastern rivers given to India carried 20 to 25 percent of the total flow of the Indus Basin as against the 75 to 80 percent in the three  western rivers allocated to  Pakistan".40  Out of the total annual flow of 168.4 million acre feet m.a.f of water in the Indus system of rivers, the total requirement for irrigation water was 96.36 m.a.f. for the entire cultivable area of the Indus basin, thereby leaving a surplus of 72.02 m.a.f. of water which would be going to the sea.  Since the cultivable area on the three eastern rivers was 22.856 million acres, little less than on the western rivers 25.100 million acres, the mean annual supplies made available by the eastern rivers was only 32.8 m.a.f., that is 13.57 m.a.f. less than the actual water requirement of 46.37 m.a.f.  In quite contrast to this, the mean annual flow in western rivers was 135.6 m.a.f., i.e. 85.59 m.a.f. more than its requirement of only 50.01 m.a.f. of water. It is quite intriguing as to why the Indian government delegation involved in the prolonged negotiations over Indus waters, agreed to much lower share of water available in the eastern rivers, particularly when the concerned officials were in know of the facts. 41 However, it appears that the  Jammu and Kashmir government, particularly its irrigation and power development departments, had not done their homework to study and quantify the existing and future water requirements for irrigation, hydel power generation and other uses inside Jammu and Kashmir.  As such the Indian delegation failed to secure the necessary safeguards in the Treaty for future consumption of water for hydel power purposes, excepting by run-of-the-river methods.  Gulhati  himself admits that "since no study had ever been made until then, of the development locally possible, above the rim stations, none of us had, at that time, any real idea of the quantum of future developments in the upper reaches of the Western Rivers. Nor did we have any idea of the irrigation from the Indus in Ladakh.  As regards hydro-electric development we felt that, being a non-consumptive use, it was not covered by the Bank proposal which dealt only with irrigation uses".42 Moreover, it is not the number of rivers but quantum of water which was to be distributed.  Besides, the World Bank did not include the Kabul river while dividing the six rivers among the two countries.

If we consider the internationally accepted Helsinki Rules framed by the International Law Association which postulate the equitable utilisation of waters of an international drainage basin  taking into consideration various factors such as the extent of the drainage area, hydrology of the basin, economic and social needs of each basin state, population dependent on the waters of  the basin, then India did not get a fair deal.  According to S.K. Garg, who has computed the respective entitlement of India and Pakistan on the basis of the population, drainage areas, length of rivers and culturable area, India should have been given 42.8% share in the waters of the Indus Basin, as against the actual allocation of 20 to 25%, flowing in the three eastern rivers.43

It may be worthwhile to mention that post-Soviet Central Asia has also been faced with the problem of water distribution.  Upstream countries- Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, argue that "the long term projections of water usage need to take into account the dynamics of population growth and the resultant necessity to increased water use to meet drinking water, agricultural, industrial and other needs."44 Kyrgyzstan has been insisting on its right to increased water use for hydropower generation and has been demanding compensation from the downstream countries for the water resources provided for irrigation.45  In fact, Kyrgystan adopted in June 2001 the law on inter-State use of water bodies, water resources and water management facilities in Kyrgyzstan, which  declared "the foreign policy of Kyrgyzstan based on the principle of paid water use in water relations with other countries."46 An Inter State Commission for Water Coordination ICWC  representing the five Central Asian Republics, which was established in 1992-93 following an agreement signed in Almaty on  18 February 1992, has been regulating the allocation consumption and exchange of water for natural gas, coal, oil  for their monetary equivalent.  For instance, as per existing agreements, Kyrgyzstan released from Toktogul reservoir to Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan 3.25 ckm of water for each country in exchange of 1.1 billion kWh of power either electricity or coal valued at 22 million dollars from Kazakhstan and 400 million kWh of power electricity plus 500 million cubic meters of natural gas valued at 48.5 million dollars per year from Uzbekistan.47  Besides, agreements were worked out of supporting the operation of Toktogul reservoir in Kyrgyzstan in the irrigation mode out of compensation payable to Kyrgyzstan.  All Parties were agreed to be a guarantor for compensation and monetary exchanges.

View From Kashmir
It becomes clear that the Indian State of Jammu and Kashmir in spite of being the upstream area, has suffered due to restrictions placed by the Treaty on the unhindered usage of its river waters of Jhelum Chenab and Indus.  The irony of the matter is that the State being rich in its hydel resources has been facing a perennial problem of shortage of hydro-electric power, more particularly during winter months and due to the dry spell in the valley.  Though the State government's official estimates put the total hydel power potential of the State at 15,000 MW, the Center for Monitoring Indian Economy CMIE has reported it to be at 7487 MW which constitutes about 9 per cent of the total hydel power potential of the country.48 Since the Treaty has placed curbs on the construction of storage reservoirs which could ensure the provision of requisite water flow, all power projects in the State are to be run-of-the-river type.  This not only raises the construction cost of the projects but also affects adversely the cost-effectiveness of power generation from these projects.  Cost of run-of-the-river projects using small head fall is reported to be about 75 per cent higher than hydel projects using high head fall.49  Thus "the generating capacity of all run-of-the-river projects falls by about 65 to 75 per cent during winter because the water level in different rivers gets depleted substantially."50  These high cost hydel projects generate  electricity much below their installed capacity.  For instance, run-of-the-river Uri Hydel Project built at a cost of more than 800 million US dollars has been producing maximum of only 200 MW in winter as against the 480 MW installed capacity.51 As such the J&K State is unable to meet its demand of about 700 MWs, even after it has been importing 230 MWs of power from the northern grid.52 The State accounts for only 0.9 per cent of the hydel power generated in the country.53 The shortage of power in the State has not only been causing problems for domestic consumption, but has also been inhibiting the growth of industry and agriculture.  During the past forty years, since the Indus Treaty was signed, there has been sizeable increase in the State's population and standards of living. Simultaneously, the State has witnessed a big leap in demand for electricity.  As such there have been fundamental changes in the ground situation, so far as the actual power requirement of the State for domestic, agricultural and industrial uses, is concerned.

Similarly, work on the construction of Tulbul Navigation Project started by the J&K government in 1984 in order to raise the level of water in the Wullar lake for facilitating transport on the river Jhelum, was stopped in 1988 after India accepted Benazir Bhutto's demands and stopped construction work at the Tulbul project.54  Despite several rounds of talks held with Pakistan during the past 17 years, the issue remains unresolved.  Whereas the Tulbul Project would not diminish or change the flow of water to Pakistan, it would keep the Jhelum river navigable for a considerable stretch thereby bringing economic benefits to the people in the valley. This project could provide a cheap mode of transport to the fruit growers in north Kashmir and thus transform the region's economy.  The existing dam in the Salal project is full of silt upto three fourths of its 400 feet height, which needs to flushed out urgently in order to let the project run. India had earlier agreed to Pakistan-dictated terms on the Salal project, which led to very high siltation levels affecting power generation sharply.

Given its success in forcing India to abandon the construction work on Tulbul Navigation Project in 1987 and also in obstructing the construction of anti-siltation sluices at the Salal Hydel Project, Pakistan has now created a controversy over the construction of the Baglihar Dam on the Chenab river.  The Rs.4000 crore Baglihar Dam project is being constructed by the Jammu and Kashmir government since the year 2000, and over Rs. 2500 crore have already been spent.  This hydel project which has an installed capacity of 450 MW and is expected to be completed by the year 2007 55,will go a long way in alleviating the problem of power shortage in Jammu and Kashmir. Though the Baglihar project is "run-of-the river project as provided under the Indus Waters Treaty, Pakistan sought to scuttle this project by creating a controversy over its design, pondage, height of the dam and spillways,."56

The authorities of J&K Power Development Corporation JKPDC, responsible for executing this project, point  out the Pakistan is making unnecessary noises without "concretizing its objections or making them specific".57 Ghulam Hassan Rather, Managing Director and Abdul Ahad Malik, Chief Engineer of a JKPDC revealed that the basic data of the Project was sent to Pakistan as early as in 1992  and work on the project was started in January 2000 after making modification in the design.  "They want us to provide a low weir instead of a dam, but that would go against the basic design.  And if the spillways were kept ungated, as Pakistan wants, the silt load would block the functioning of the machine.  In about 18 or 20 years the project will become redundant."58  Baglihar engineers point out that spillways with channels are constructed to remove the silt deposited i the dam and have nothing to do with controlling the Chenab waters. 59 Indian contention is that building of a 470 ft. high dam with fully equipped gated spillway will not affect the flow of the river into Pakistan.  Besides, in the light of its experience in Salal Project, which is suffering due to deposition of large amount of silt, India can not afford to repeat the same mistake in Baglihar.

It is, therefore, understandable that there has been growing concern and anger in Jammu and Kashmir over the negative consequences of the Indus Treaty for the State. Both the official and public circles in J&K State have been pleading for a review of this Treaty, so that the legitimate water requirements of J&K State for hydel power generation, deepening of rivers for navigation purposes, erecting protective bunds for floods and building adequate water reserves for irrigation are fulfilled.  Environmental considerations also demand that the locally available hydel resources be utilised to the optimum to preserve and to maintain the deteriorating ecosystem in the State.  Already, various water bodies particularly the famous Dal lake, Wullar lake and other aquatic systems have shrunk, thereby causing alarm.

Yet another associated problem has been the revenue loss of millions of rupees to the J&K State, as a result of the floating of timber logs from Jhelum and Chenab across the LoC into Pak-occupied Kashmir.  This author learnt from some responsible officials of some insurance companies operating in J&K State, that the local timber merchants have been claiming millions of rupees of insurance compensation on lieu their timber losses on this account.

And in Pakistan itself, experience has shown that its portion of Indus basin has been suffering form acute problem of water logging and salinity due to excess availability of Indus waters and consequent canal seepage and percolation of excess amount of water.  According to a study, in Punjab alone, "5 million ha have already gone out of cultivation due to salinity caused by water logging, 690,000 ha are  affected to a lesser degree."60  Pakistani experts point out that Pakistan has made heavy investment in gigantic projects like Tarbela and Mangle dams, barrages, link canals etc. whereas projects of small irrigation, drainage, soil and water conservation remained on low priority. They believe that "rational use of water on three crops - wheat, cotton and sugarcane alone would save Pakistan about 5.6 MAF."61 Experts in Pakistan are forthright in ascribing the so called problem of water shortage in Pakistan to inefficient usage of water and distortions in its socio-economic policies. According to them, "with more than 1300 cubic metres per person available annually, Pakistan is by hydrological definitions, not a water stressed country."62 They argue that the water balance in the Indus Basin was massively destabilized due to addition of "more water to the eco-system than its natural drainage potential", which resulted in desertification through water logging and salinity. 63  Besides, there is the unresolved issue of inter-provincial discord over distribution of water.

To conclude, Indian efforts to buy peace from Pakistan by giving concessions through the Indus Waters Treaty failed miserably.  Indus water dispute was and is sought to be used by Pakistan as a political tool in the Indo-Pak dual over Kashmir. All along Pakistan's policy has been to avoid any direct bilateral settlement with India and to seek third party intervention.  The manner in which the Treaty was negotiated and concluded, lends and impression of external pressure group network exerting their influence since huge investments were involved in the construction of big dams and canals.  It is  a reflection on the functioning of the World Bank which was influenced by the Cold War politics in the region and by the interested construction lobbies.  It also reminds that outside mediation or arbitration in bilateral disputes between India and Pakistan, as was done by the World Bank in this case, would not lead to a lasting and positive solution based on principles of equitability and just distribution of resources.  The Treaty which  has been in force for more than 45 years, has added to the economic woes of the people of upstream Jammu and Kashmir State by depriving them of the legitimate right to full usage of Jhelum, Chenab and Indus waters for hydro-electric generation, irrigation, navigation and other purposes.  As such there is sufficient ground for reviewing the Indus Treaty, so that it is turned into a resilient one after making necessary modifications and adjustments, which can take care of the substantial changes in the ground situation in Jammu and Kashmir.

That  Pakistan has secured third party intervention the World Bank to resolve its dispute with India over the Baglihar hydro project is part of its strategy to internationalize and politicize the issue.  It marks a complete deviation from the path of the "Composite Dialogue" process agreed to by both India and Pakistan to resolve all outstanding  issue including Kashmir.  Pakistan's objections to the construction of Baglihar dam are more political than a technical one .  Pakistan's contention that this dam can inflict damage to Pakistan controlled territory downstream by withholding water or flooding does not hold good, as in that event two mega projects-Salal and Sawalkot, which are built downside within the Indian territory, would get flooded and damaged.  Baglihar project is situated about 120 kms. inside of the LOC in Jammu and Kashmir.  Indian Water Resources Minister, Priyaranjan Dasmunsi soon after his visit to Baglihar project site in June 2005, affirmed that "the project design fully conforms to the provisions of the treaty."64

Interestingly, Pakistan is raising the height of Manala dam by another 40 feet to ensure more power and  water for Punjab at the cost of the people of Mirpur in Pakistan occupied Kashmir PoK.  Similarly, Islamabad is planning to build the Skardu dam in 'Northern Areas' of PoK, to ensure added water supply and electricity to Punjab in spite of the protests from the people of Giligt and Baltistan. Yet, Pakistan is not acceding to the water and electricity requirements of  that part of Kashmir. Pakistan, which is never tired of talking of human rights of Kashmiris, is thus denying the people of Jammu and Kashmir, their legitimate right to use water from their own rivers.

1. See, Arun Joshi, "J&K to Denounce Indus Water", Hindustan Times, 18, December 1998.
2. See, Praveen Swami, A Treaty Questioned, Frontline, 10 May 2002, pp.24-35.
3. Rushbrook Williams, "The Indus Canals Water Dispute,"Leader, Allahabad, 5 June 1955. S.K. Garg, International and Interstate River Water Disputes New Delhi, 1999, p. 79. N.D. Gulhati, Indus Water Treaty: An Exercise in International Mediation, Bombay, Allied 1973, pp.18,24.
4. S.K. Garg, International and Interstate River Water Disputes, p.79.
5. Kaiser Bengali, Editor, The Politics of Managing Water Islamabad, 2003, p.xxii.
6. Ibid.,p.xxiii.
7. Rushbrook Williams,op cit.
8. N.D. Gulhati, op cit, p.39.
9. Ibid. p.59.
10 Ibid.
11Rushbrook Williams, op cit.
12 N.D. Gulhati, op cit, pp. 64-65.
13. Rushbrook Williams, op cit.
14. N.D. Gulhati, op cit. p.69.
15. Ibid.
16. Ibid p. 68.
17 Sisir Gupta, "The Indus Water Treaty", 1960. Foreign Affairs Reports, Vol.9, No. 12, December 1960.
18 Ibid.
19. N.D. Gulhati, op cit. p. 92.
20. Ibid. p. 93.
21. David Lilienthal, "Another "Korea" in the Making ", Colliers Magazine, 4 August 1951
22. Ibid.
23. N.D. Gulhati, op cit. p. 445.
24. G.T. Keith Pitman, "The Role of the World Bank in Enhancing Cooperation and Resolving Conflict on International
Watercourses : The Case of the Indus Basin", In International Water Cources : Enhancing Cooperation and Managing Conflict. Edited by M.A. Salman and Laurence Boission de Chazournes.  Washington, World Bank Technical Paper No. 414, p. 159.
25. Ibid,p.160.
26. Gulhati, op. cit,, p. 137.
27. Cited in ibid., p. 147.
28. A.G.T. Keith Pitman, op.cit., p.161.
29. Gulhati, op.cit., pp.277-278.
30. Ibid.
31. For full text and annexures see Ibid., pp.373-410.
32. Dawn, 25 April 1959.
33. Ibid., 19 September 1960.
34. Times of India, 30 September 1960.
35. Dawn, 6 October 1960.
36. Cited in Indian Express, 1 December 1960.
37. Ibid.
38. Ibid.
39. Gulhati, op.cit., p.345.
40. S.K. Garg, op cit., p.85.
41. A.N. Khosla, former Chairman of the Central Water and Power Commission who was responsible for water resources development including the Indus dispute, published details of the Indus Basin and water flow in various Indus rivers two years before the agreement was signed. See his "Development of the Indus River System: An Engineering Approach", India Quarterly, Vol. 14, No.3, July-Sept. 1958. pp.234-253.
42. Gulhati, op.cit.,p.149.
43. S.K. Garg, op.cit., p.85.
44. U.N., Strengthening Cooperation for Rational and Efficient use of Water and Energy Resources in Central Asia New York, 2004, p.55.
45. Ibid., pp.53-54.
46. Ibid., p.56.
47. USAID, Central Asia Mission, Energy and Water Round Table: Analysis and Preparation for September 8-12, 1997 Meeting, 22 August 1997.
48. Dost Mohammad and A.S. Bhat, Problems of Power Sector Development. In Shri Prakash and G.M. Shah, eds., Towards Understanding the Kashmir Crisis, Delhi, 2002, p.175.
49. Dost Mohammad and A.S. Bhat, Ibid.
50. Ibid., p.176.
51. Ibid. See also, Shujaat Bukhari, "Serious Power Shortage Stalks J&K", The Hindu, 18 January 2000.
52. Ibid. Rashid Ahmad, "Incessant Power Cut takes Valley into Dark Age", Pioneer, 21 January 2000.
53. CMIE, India's Energy Sector, September 1996, cited in Dost Mohammad and A.S. Bhat, op.cit., p.177.
54. Bharat Bhushan, "India-Pakistan Talks: Tulbul Navigation Project", Hindustan Times, 5 November 1998.
55. G.S. Dhillon, The Threatening Tides of Baglihar, Indian Express, New Delhi, 28 February 2005.
56. Ibid.
57. Yusuf Jameel, Baglihar - Pak has Problem with Design, Asian Age, New Delhi, 6 February 2005.
58. Ibid.
59. Luv Puri, "Swiss Expert Begins Site Inspection", The Hindu, 3 October 2005.
60. Masahiro Murakami, Managing Water for Peace in the Middle East: Alternative Strategies. Tokyo, United Nations University Press, 1995, p.52.
61. Manzoor Ahmed, "Issues in Water Policy Reforms", in Kaiser Bengali, op.cit,pp.73-78
62. Kaiser Bengali,op.cit.,p.xiii.
63. Ibid.,p.xvi.
64. The Hindu, 19 June 2005.