The Centre has started the process of stopping water from flowing into Pakistan without breaking the Indus Waters Treaty said Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat Tuesday in Mumbai, adding that the process has already begun to secure the water by building a diversion.
“If you are talking about our top priorities, then aane wale samay mein Pakistan jaane wale pani ko kaise roka ja sakta hai, uspe kaam chalu hai (work has begun on how to stop water that flows into Pakistan). I am talking about the water which is going to Pakistan, I’m not talking about breaking the Indus Treaty,” said Shekhawat. Asked to elaborate, he said, “The water which is excess and going to Pakistan, how can we stop that water? There are some reservoirs and rivers which are outside the catchment area. We will divert that channel so we can use that water in the lean season and monsoon season. Today, all our reservoirs are full but we can use that water (which is going to Pakistan) and divert it to the Ravi river.”
Shekhawat’s remarks come more than a fortnight after the Centre moved to scrap the special status granted to Jammu and Kashmir and bifurcated the state into two Union Territories, which has prompted protests from Pakistan.
Shekhawat also said that dams were built “not only to generate hydroelectricity” but for use in the “lean season”.
Incidentally, former Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari had made similar comments in the wake of the Pulwama terror attack on February 14. Then, Gadkari had said that the government had decided to “stop” the waters in the three “eastern rivers” of the Indus basin from flowing into Pakistan, and instead divert the flow to supply waters to “our people in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab”.
The waters of three eastern rivers of the Indus basin — Ravi, Sutlej and Beas — have been assigned entirely for use by India under the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty with Pakistan. The three western rivers — Indus, Jhelum and Chenab — are supposed to flow “unrestricted” to Pakistan under the treaty, though India, being the upstream country, is allowed to use the waters in a “non-consumptive” manner.