Water has again come to the forefront of the India-Pakistan tussle with Delhi exposing Pakistani claims in a non-paper handed over to India at the foreign-secretary-level talks on February 25 as “trivial and technical”.
A non-paper is an unofficial paper on an issue exchanged between governments.
The last meeting of the Indus water commission in Lahore had turned stormy with Pakistan declaring its intention of going to a neutral expert on the Kishan Ganga project in the Gurez Valley near the Line of Control (LoC). Pakistan has been accusing India of “water stealing and water terrorism”.
Government sources said Pakistan’s non-paper is based on “wrong premises” and goes against the tenants of the Indus-Water Treaty of 1960. The issues raised by Pakistan are “purely technical” in nature, India says.
Delhi is objecting to the mention in the non-paper that “three western rivers (Indus Chenab and Jhelum with a mean water flow of 136 million acre feet (MAF)) are awarded to Pakistan” and rejects Pakistan's apprehensions that the Indus-Water Treaty-compliant projects in these rivers have “negative effects” on Pakistan’s rights as a lower riparian state.
Delhi feels that the three western rivers are awarded to Pakistan is an “erroneous notion” as the Indus Water treaty permits limited use of water in western river for purposes of “domestic use”, “non-consumptive use, besides a water storage capacity of 3.6 million acre feet. As per the Delhi’s argument even when India uses water in western rivers to the maximum extent permissible in the treaty, it is not likely to use more than 3-4 per cent of annual mean flow of these rivers, which is 135 MAF.
Delhi says Pakistan concern over the issue of pollution is taken care of in the article IV-10 of the Indus Water treaty, which, provides inter alia that each party “agrees to take all reasonable measures before any sewage or industrial waste is allowed to flow in the rivers”.
Delhi points out that the Indus water treaty gives the lower riparian state more “than four times” of the water available to India.
India also suggests that there can be a bilateral arrangement whereby both countries can share “best practices in water utilisation and irrigation”.
India also objects to other charges like delay in handing over project information, India's developmental activities causing deforestation and environmental degradation affecting the water flow, as well as the 33 projects India is building in western rivers reducing the water flow to Pakistan.