Pakistan Water Crisis: Facts and Myths

Pakistan is believed to be in the midst of a water crisis that is said to pose an existential threat to the country. These assertions raise a whole series of questions on the source of the crisis and possible solutions to deal with it. The New Water Policy adopted in April 2018 is a good start but it needs a lot more focus and continuing investments.

Indus Water System. Courtesy: The Friday Times
Questions on Water Crisis: 

How severe is Pakistan's water crisis? Is India contributing to this crisis? How many million acre feet (MAF) of water flows in Pakistan? What are its sources? Glaciers? Rain? Groundwater? How much of it is stored in dams and other reservoirs? What is the trend of per capita water availability in Pakistan? What sectors are the biggest consumers of water in Pakistan? Why does agriculture consume over 95% of all available water? How can Pakistan produce "more crop per drop"? What are Pakistan's options in dealing with the water crisis? Build more dams? Recharge groundwater? Use improved irrigation techniques like sprinklers and drip irrigation? Would metering water at the consumers and charging based on actual use create incentives to be more efficient in water use?

Water Availability: 

Pakistan receives an average of 145 million acre feet (MAF) of water a year, according to the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) report. Water availability at various canal headworks is about 95 million acre feet (MAF).  About 50%-90% comes from the glacial melt while the rest comes from monsoon rains.  Additional 50 MAF of groundwater is extracted annually via tube wells.

Pakistan Water Availability. Source: Water Conference Presentation

The total per capita water availability is about 900 cubic meters per person, putting Pakistan in the water-stressed category.

India Factor: 

What is the impact of India's actions on water flow in Pakistan? Under the Indus Basin Water Treaty, India has the exclusive use of the water from two eastern rivers: Ravi and Sutlej. Pakistan has the right to use all of the water from the three western rivers: Chenab, Jhelum and Indus. However, India can build run of the river hydroelectric power plants with minimal water storage to generate electricity.

Currently, India is not using all of the water from the two eastern rivers. About 4.6 million acre feet (MAF) of water flows into Pakistan via Ravi and Sutlej. Water flow in Pakistan will be reduced if India decides to divert more water from Ravi and Sutlej for its own use.

Secondly, India can store water needed for run-of-the-river hydroelectric plants on the western rivers. When new hydroelectric projects are built on these rivers in India, Pakistan suffers from reduced water flows during the periods when these reservoirs are filled by India. This happened when Baglihar dam was filled by India as reported by Harvard Professor John Briscoe who was assigned by the World Bank to work on IWT compliance by both India and Pakistan.

Pakistan is also likely to suffer when India ensures its hydroelectric reservoirs are filled in periods of low water flow in the three western rivers.

Water Storage Capacity: 

Pakistan's water storage capacity in its various dams and lakes is about 15 million acre feet (MAF), about 10% of all water flow. It's just enough water to cover a little over a month  of water needed. There are several new dams in the works which will double Pakistan's water storage capacity when completed in the future.

Since 1970s, the only significant expansion in water storage capacity occurred on former President Musharraf's watch when Mangla Dam was raised 30 feet to increase its capacity by nearly 3 million acre feet (MAF). Musharraf increased water projects budget to Rs. 70 billion which was reduced to Rs. 51 billion by PPP government and further decreased to Rs. 36 billion by PMLN government.  It was only the very last PMLN budget passed by Shahid Khaqan Abbasi's outgoing government that increased water development allocation to Rs. 65 billion, a far cry from Rs. 70 billion during Musharraf years given the dramatic drop in the value of the Pakistani rupee.

Water Consumption: 

Domestic, business and industrial consumers use about 5 million acre feet while the rest is consumed by the agriculture sector to grow food. Just 5% improvement in irrigation efficiency can save Pakistan about 7.5 million acre feet , the same as the current storage capacity of the country's largest Tarbela dam.

Given the vast amount of water used to grow crops, there is a significant opportunity to save water and increase yields by  modernizing the farm sector.

National Water Policy:

Pakistan's Common Council of Interests (CCI) with the prime minister and the provincial chief ministers recently adopted a National Water Policy (NWP) in April 2018. It is designed to deal with “the looming shortage of water” which poses “a grave threat to (the country’s) food, energy and water security” and constitutes “an existential threat…”as well as “the commitment and intent” of the federal and provincial governments to make efforts “ to avert the water crisis”.

The NWP supports significant increases in the public sector investment for the water sector by the Federal Government from 3.7% of the development budget in 2017-18 to at least 10% in 2018-19 and 20% by 2030; the establishment of an apex body to approve legislation, policies and strategies for water resource development and management, supported by a multi- sectoral Steering Committee of officials at the working level; and the creation of a Groundwater Authority in Islamabad and provincial water authorities in each of the provinces.

More Crop Per Drop:

"More crop per drop" program will focus on improving water use efficiency by promoting drip and sprinkler irrigation in agriculture.

The Punjab government started this effort with the World Bank with $250 million investment.  The World Bank is now providing additional $130 million financing for the Punjab Irrigated Agriculture Productivity Improvement Program Phase-I.

The project is the Punjab Government's initiative called High-Efficiency Irrigation Systems (HEIS) to more than doubles the efficiency of water use. Under the project, drip irrigation systems have been installed on about 26,000 acres, and 5,000 laser leveling units have been provided. The additional financing will ensure completion of 120,000 acres with ponds in saline areas and for rainwater harvesting, and filtration systems for drinking water where possible, according to the World Bank.

Groundwater Depletion: 

 Pakistan, India, and the United States are responsible for two-thirds of the groundwater use globally,  according to a report by University College London researcher Carole Dalin.  Nearly half of this groundwater is used to grow wheat and rice crops for domestic consumption and exports.  This puts Pakistan among the world's largest exporters of its rapidly depleting groundwater.

Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources is working with  United States' National Air and Space Administration (NASA) to monitor groundwater resources in the country.

Water Stress Satellite Map Source: NASA 
NASA's water stress maps shows extreme water stress across most of Pakistan and northern, western and southern parts of India.

The US space agency uses Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE) to measure earth's groundwater. GRACE’s pair of identical satellites, launched in 2002, map tiny variations in Earth's gravity. Since water has mass, it affects these measurements. Therefore, GRACE data can help scientists monitor where the water is and how it changes over time, according to NASA.

Aquifer Recharge:

Building large dams is only part of the solution to water stress in Pakistan. The other, more important part, is building structures to trap rain water for recharging aquifers across the country.

Typical Aquifer in Thar Desert 

Pakistan's highly water stressed Punjab province is beginning recognize the need for replacing groundwater. Punjab Government is currently in the process of planning a project to recharge aquifers for groundwater management in the Province by developing the economical and sustainable technology and to recharge aquifer naturally and artificially at the available site across the Punjab. It has allocated Rs. 582.249 million to execute this project over four years.

Summary:

Pakistan is in the midst of a severe water crisis that could pose an existential threat if nothing is done to deal with it.  The total per capita water availability is about 900 cubic meters per person, putting the country in the water-stressed category. Agriculture sector uses about 95% of the available water. There are significant opportunities to achieve greater efficiency by using drop irrigation systems being introduced in Punjab. The New Water Policy is a good start but it requires continued attention with greater investments and focus to deal with all aspects of the crisis.

Here's a video discussion on the subject:

https://youtu.be/nrfF3ppBzpo




Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Groundwater Depletion in Pakistan

Water Scarce Pakistan

Cycles of Drought and Floods in Pakistan

Pakistan to Build Massive Dams

Dust Bowl in Thar Desert Region

Dasht River in Balochistan



Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Every year since 2012, Bangalore has been hit by drought; last year Karnataka, of which Bangalore is the capital, received its lowest rainfall level in four decades. But the changing climate is not exclusively to blame for Bangalore’s water problems. The city’s growth, hustled along by its tech sector, made it ripe for crisis. Echoing urban patterns around the world, Bangalore’s population nearly doubled from 5.7 million in 2001 to 10.5 million today. By 2020 more than 2 million IT professionals are expected to live here.

https://www.wired.com/2017/05/why-bangalores-water-crisis-is-everyones-crisis/

Through the 2000s, Bangalore’s urban landscape expanded so quickly that the city had no time to extend its subcutaneous network of water pipes into the fastest-growing areas, like Whitefield. Layers of concrete and tarmac crept out across the city, stopping water from seeping into the ground. Bangalore, once famous for its hundreds of lakes, now has only 81. The rest have been filled and paved over. Of the 81 remaining, more than half are contaminated with sewage.

Not only has the municipal water system been slow to branch out, it also leaks like cheesecloth. In the established neighborhoods that enjoy the relative reliability of a municipal hookup, 44 percent of the city’s water supply either seeps out through aging pipes or gets siphoned away by thieves. Summers bring shortages, even for those served by the city’s plumbing. Everywhere, the steep ascent of demand has caused a run on groundwater. Well owners drill deeper and deeper, chasing the water table downward as they all keep draining it further. The groundwater level has sunk from a depth of 150 or 200 feet to 1,000 feet or more in many places.

The job of distributing water from an ever-shifting array of dying wells has been taken up, in large part, by informal armadas of private tanker trucks like the one Manjunath drives. There are between 1,000 and 3,000 of these trucks, according to varying estimates, hauling tens of millions of gallons per day through Bangalore. By many accounts, the tanker barons of Bangalore—the men who own and direct these trucks—now control the supply of water so thoroughly that they can form cartels, bend prices, and otherwise abuse their power. Public officials are fond of calling the tanker owners a “water mafia.”

That term, water mafia, conjures an image straight out of Mad Max—gangs of small-time Immortan Joes running squadrons of belching tankers, turning a city’s water on and off at will. When I first started to hear about Bangalore’s crisis, that lurid image was hard to square with the cosmopolitan city I knew from a lifetime of frequent visits. The prospect of Bangalore’s imminent collapse from dehydration, and its apparently anarchic response to the threat, seemed to offer a discomfiting preview of a more general urban future. As Earth warms, as cities swell, as resources become more scarce and vexing to distribute, the world’s urban centers will start to hit up against hard limits.

In the moment, though—well before the apocalypse—there was Manjunath. When his tanker had emptied itself, he chucked away his toothpick, climbed back into the cab, and set off once more for the bore well. Huawei’s reservoir would swallow many more loads before it was full.
Riaz Haq said…
GE to refurbish Mangla power station by 2023


https://steelguru.com/power/ge-to-refurbish-mangla-power-station-by-2023/511191

Mangla power station, located in Kashmir, has an installed capacity of 1,000MW. The existing station has 10 generating units, having capacity of 100MW each with a useful life of 30 years extendable up to 35 years.

The first unit was commissioned in 1967. All units at Mangla have efficiently been working and generating electricity since then in accordance with their installed capacity despite completion of their useful life long ago.

The Wapda planned to refurbish the existing Mangla hydropower station to benefit from additional 2.88 million acres feet of water and 40 feet additional water head available with completion of Mangla dam raising project in 2009.

Sheikh said the modern technology is being used to optimise generation capacity of Mangla hydropower station. “The quantum of water, which generates 1,000MW, will be sufficient to generate over 1,300MW.”

He said GE is expanding its footprints in hydropower, coal, gas and renewable generation across the country. GE is expected to power 40 percent of the country’s overall electricity generation by 2019.

The company’s executive added that “Pakistan’s generation capacity will stand at around 35,000MW by 2019; of which 14,000MW would be generated through GE equipment.”

On regasified liquefied natural gas- (RLNG) fired power plants, Mr Sheikh said Haveli Bahadurshah and Bhikki plants have achieved their commissioning following rigorous testing while the Balloki plant would shortly be commissioned. He added that “The gas-run power plants are most cost effective power generation plants in the country and would add 3,600MW into the system. There are some teething problems, but now the plants are operating at full capacity.”



Riaz Haq said…
The Indus Inland Waterways System – the next big thing for Asia?

https://www.dawn.com/news/1241827

There are few river systems in the world as long and as reliable as the Indus. The river and its tributaries connect most major cities of Pakistan with each other and the Arabian Sea, but also Kabul in Afghanistan and the towns such as Gurdaspur and Ludhiana in India.

If a carefully engineered Indus Inland Waterways System (IIWS) is developed, connecting several cities in the three countries with the Arabian Sea, it could bring a huge economic boon in the entire region inhabited by 500 million people, including western China and Central Asia.

The economics and advantages of inland waterways are well documented, including in trade, commerce and engineering.

History of missed opportunities
Historically, this potential has existed since the times of British Raj. With the construction of Suez Canal in 1869, the British developed the port at Karachi and improved its transportation links with the interior through roads, railways and steamer services in the Indus.

Although proposals were put up for intercity linkage canals through the Indus, the British engineers saw more economic potential in building irrigation canals (a similar thing happened in the Ganges system).

While development of railways took care of inland transportation needs, the rivers were diverted into irrigation canals to transform the river basin into what is now known as the largest contiguous irrigation system of the world – IBIS (Indus Basin Irrigation System).

And it has sucked the rivers dry.

On the one hand, except for the monsoon months, the Indus delta receives very little to no flow going into the sea, and on the other, ever increasing irrigation demands are calling for damming or diverting even the leftover waters from the environmentally degraded rivers.

It seems almost impossible that the irrigation sector will let go its waters for maritime transportation.

The hope of agricultural efficiency
However, there is a ray of hope. The irrigation efficiency in IBIS is one of the lowest in the world. It is only half that of Imperial Valley in USA, and about two-third of its counterparts in Nile Valley and Indian Punjab.

Efficient irrigation can spare half the water being diverted from the rivers. This would only make economic sense if the water saved through efficiency can lead to more profit. IIWS provides that engine.

The International Monetary Fund's (IMF) 2015 World Economic Database reports that the agriculture sector’s total contribution to Pakistan’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is 23pc, or USD 60billion.

Irrigated agriculture provides approximately USD 45bn of this amount. In contrast, the Mississippi waterways serve approximately 200m people with an annual turnover of USD 70bn.

A fully developed IIWS would potentially serve more than 500m people in the region and could contribute to GDP far more than the current share of irrigated agriculture.

But IIWS will not replace agriculture, instead it will enhance agricultural productivity. Basin-scale investments in irrigation efficiency, therefore, make good economic sense.

Even with the current irrigation technologies being used efficiency can double, and with new emerging irrigation technologies we may be able to produce the same agricultural output with only a fifth of water.

A test run
The government of Punjab (GoP) has taken the initiative to test start a 200 kilometre commercial waterway in the Indus River between Attock and Daudkhel. Through a public private partnership, GoP has established the Inland Water Transport Development Company (IWTDC). The company’s mission is to ultimately connect Port Qasim with Nowshehra.
Riaz Haq said…
National Transport Policy 2018 approved


https://nation.com.pk/02-Jun-2018/national-transport-policy-2018-approved

The National Transport Policy available with The Nation has recommended that Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority will be restructured, separating its regulatory and service provision responsibilities.

Work on the National Transport Policy was initiated by the Ministry of Planning, Development & Reform in collaboration with Department for International Development (DFID) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) in February, 2017.

In road transport the NTP said that the priority for passenger transport by road will be to enhance the usage of non-motorized transport and public transport. An increased focus will be made to the provision of public transport services and integration to other modes. Private transport will be considered complimentary to non-motorized transport and public transport, and will provide reliable access to low density and remote areas.

For freight, the predominant movement by road transport will increasingly be shifted to rail and pipeline, by better integration of agriculture and industry to rail stations, dry ports, and pipelines.

Rural roads will remain vital for providing accessibility to local communities and public services, Urban roads will be designed to support efficient and effective urban transport and International road transport will be supported by accession to and implementation of relevant international road transport agreements and conventions. Leasing within the Right of Way shall not be pursued.

-----------

Regarding the maritime transport the NTP said that maritime sector shall be geared to become a major engine of growth through its support and facilitation of international trade. Karachi and Port Qasim ports will serve as the primary international gateway ports for all types of commodity shipments, with Gwadar Port balancing national trade opportunities, transshipment and regional transit.

A port-city council planning forum will be established to support port developments. Ports will be operated under a landlord port model.

Private sector terminal operators will lead in providing specialist terminal facilities and service delivery. Public sector will provide supportive port and navigation infrastructure and regulatory oversight.

Coastal port harbour facilities will be promoted, including freight and passenger shipping service concessions.

Maritime security will be enhanced for all maritime zones and implementation through maritime security agency. (xvii) An independent regulator will be established as national maritime authority.

Regarding the pipelines NTP said that oil, gas and bulk liquid will principally be transported via pipelines. Bulk dry commodities will be considered via slurry pipelines or conveyors upon establishment of a supporting business case. Pipeline connections will be established to ports, terminals, refineries, storage depots, dry ports, airports, industrial zones and to periphery of urban areas.

Regarding inland waterway transport the policy said that inland waterway transport will be promoted as a cheaper alternate, and environmentally friendly mode, and will become an element of intermodal transport services in conjunction and support of rail and road freight and passenger connections.

Passenger ferry services will target cross-river linkages, urban transit corridors, and coastal estuaries/ zones, as alternatives to rail and road access.

An inland waterway transport master plan will be developed, actively exploring other navigable rivers and canals, considering effective riverine water management planning.

The NTP further said that urban transport will be considered as a single integrated transport system and planned in accordance to the hierarchy of modes, including public transport, private transport, non-motorized transport, and freight transport.
Riaz Haq said…
Inland water transportation -- Cost-effective and eco-friendly option

https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2001/03/12/stories/09127101.htm


WHY inland water transport? Mainly because of the many distinct advantages it has over the other modes. IWT routes are developed along existing rivers, canals and waterways and, unlike road and rail, do not need to get into the vexed questio n of land acquisition. The per km cost of development of a waterway is insignificant when compared to that of an equivalent length or equivalent traffic capacity of rail or highway. The maintenance cost of a waterway is also less compared to the corresponding costs for rail or road. The time taken to develop waterway routes is, similarly, negligible.

The most important factor, in my view, is that IWT provides a service that is far more environment-friendly than either road or rail. In the context of damage caused to the fragile ecosystem by rapid economic development, it is impossible to overestimate the importance of this factor. Road transport, in particular, relies exclusively on fossil fuels which are not only polluting, but also finite in character.

The continued use of such fuel must inevitably lead to depletion of existing reserves. Finally, congested roads and indisciplined drivers result in accidents on our highways. Alternative transport strategies, such as IWT, therefore, do a major service by tackling congestion on roads, thus reducing accidents and the horrendous loss of life they cause.

Other parameters are equally revealing. IWT remains, in most situations, the least costly, the least energy consuming and the least hazardous mode of transportation. The order of the magnitude of the ratios between water, rail and road transportation is within the ranges of 1-2-5 in cost and 1-1.5-4 in energy consumption. These ratios are common for many typical routes in diverse waterway systems in the US, Bangladesh and China, though the cost structure is different in each of these countries.

It is unfortunate that we have not realised the immense flexibility of IWT in bringing about decongestion of roads. By increasing draft marginally, the capacity of IWT goes up exponentially. If a two-metre draft can support a traffic load of 150 million tonnes, the addition of a mere half of metre to the depth, bringing it to 2.5 metres, increases the carrying capacity to nearly 300 million tonnes. The facility of using relatively small amounts of capital to increase the existing capacity quite sharply is not available either in road or rail. For countries in the process of rapid development, it becomes a major option in the expansion of transportation capacities.

The effect of an efficient IWT is seen in the development of otherwise land-locked backward areas. IWT not only brings sea cargo to the hinterland, but also serves as a low-cost marketing channel, enabling small rural communities to access other communit ies not only as a market but also as a source of supply. In either case, the economy benefits immensely.

If all these are direct benefits of the development of an efficient IWT, the indirect benefits are no less relevant. The development of an efficient IWT system in the eastern region will undoubtedly promote the growth of a vibrant ship-building industry. Too often, when discussing the shipbuilding industry, we think in terms of VLCCs, ULCCs or very large container vessels. The possibility that the ship-building industry in the eastern region will be able to hold its own against the larger global players is remote. We are unlikely to be competitive in the construction of sophisticated ocean-going vessels.
Riaz Haq said…
ADB approves $100m loan to address Balochistan’s water shortage
A separate $2 million technical assistance from JFPR will help the provincial government improve its institutional capacity to address the risks and potential impact of climate change in the agriculture sector

https://en.dailypakistan.com.pk/pakistan/adb-approves-100m-loan-to-address-balochistans-water-shortage/

The Asian Development Bank’s (ADB) on Monday approved a $100 million loan to address chronic water shortages and increase earnings on farms in southwestern Pakistan province of Balochistan.

The Balochistan Water Resources Development Sector Project will focus on improving irrigation infrastructure and water resource management in the Zhob and Mula river basins, the ADB said in a statement.

“Agriculture is the backbone of Bolochistan’s economy,” said ADB Principal Water Resources Specialist Yaozhou Zhou. “This project will build irrigation channels and dams, and introduce efficient water usage systems and practices, to help farmers increase food production and make more money,” he added.

Among the infrastructure that will be upgraded or built for the project is a dam able to hold 36 million cubic meters of water, 276 kilometers of irrigation channels and drainage canals, and facilities that will make it easier for people, especially women, to access water for domestic use.

In total, about 16,592 hectares (ha) of land will be added or improved for irrigation.

The project will protect watersheds through extensive land and water conservation efforts, including planting trees and other measures on 4,145 ha of barren land to combat soil erosion.

Part of the project’s outputs are the pilot testing of technologies such as solar-powered drip irrigation systems on 130 ha of agricultural land, improving crop yields and water usage on 160 fruit and vegetable farms and demonstrating high-value agriculture development.

The project will also establish a water resources information system that will use high-level technology such as satellite and remote sensing to do river basin modelling and identify degraded land for rehabilitation.

ADB will also administer grants from the Japan Fund for Poverty Reduction (JFPR) and the High-Level Technology Fund (HLT Fund) worth $3 million and $2 million, respectively, for the project.

A separate $2 million technical assistance from JFPR will help Balochistan’s provincial government improve its institutional capacity to address the risks and potential impact of climate change in the agriculture sector, as well as build a climate-resilient and sustainable water resources management mechanism in the province.

JFPR, established in May 2000, provides grants for ADB projects supporting poverty reduction and social development efforts, while the HLT Fund, established in April 2017, earmarks grant financing to promote technology and innovative solutions in ADB projects.

ADB said it is committed to achieving a prosperous, inclusive, resilient and sustainable Asia and the Pacific, while sustaining its efforts to eradicate extreme poverty.

Established in 1966, it is owned by 67 members of which 48 are from the region. In 2017, ADB operations totaled $32.2 billion, including $11.9 billion in co-financing.
Riaz Haq said…
Here's what I found in World Bank sponsored research:

http://www.waterwatch.nl/fileadmin/bestanden/Project/Asia/0053_PK_2002_CropWaterProductivity.pdf


Crop yields show distinct North-South and East-West variations: wheat yields in the Indian Punjab average 29% higher than in the Pakistani Punjab to the west, and wheat yields in the Pakistani Punjab are 33% higher than in the Pakistani Sindh to the south. These spatial patterns of wheat yield are similar for 1984-85 and 2001- 02. Because crop evapotranspiration in the Pakistani Punjab and Indian Punjab are similar, the difference in crop yields between these two regions is also responsible for the difference in water productivity values. This important conclusion implies that increased water productivity can only be achieved by increased crop yields. Experiments of the Pakistan Agricultural Research Council across the country (n=41) have indicated that the overall yield of wheat can be increased by 54%, provided that inputs are optimal. Improved management of water quality (groundwater and canal water) and evacuation of drainage water are important components for improving agricultural production. Seed quality, fertilizers, and pesticide control should also be improved.

----------------

Water productivity values for wheat in 2001-02 (dry year) were higher due to increased solar radiation, which boosts crop growth when good quality groundwater is sufficiently available. During this 17-year period, yield increases were also due to improvements in farming practices and seed quality. In an average rainfall year, the water productivity for wheat in Pakistan (0.76 kg/m3) is 24% less than the global average (~1.0 kg/m3) and, therefore, can be classified as “moderately acceptable”. During the drought of 2001- 02, water productivities were at the same level as the global average. Hence, drought results in a more efficient utilization of water resources by wheat crops grown in the rabi (the dry winter season). Rice yield in the Punjab is on-average 24% higher than in the Sindh. The water productivity of rice (0.45 kg/m3) is 55% below the average value for rice in Asia (~1.0 kg.m3). Contrary to wheat, the water productivity of rice decreased during the 2001 drought, because rice is sensitive to water stress and to salinity that is intensified through increased tubewell withdrawals.
Riaz Haq said…
As to the water cutoff, it's just an empty threat by crazy Hindu Nationalists.


Can India really threaten Pakistan over water? TFT asked Jaweid Ishaque, an economist who has worked in agriculture and is editing a forthcoming monograph on water in Pakistan by Adnan Asdar Ali, a civil engineer with diverse experience in structural and forensic engineering, who has become an advocate for awareness on water in Pakistan.

TFT: Why have they left it like that?

JI: India has built a lot of dams—small dams. You need to undertand the geography to understand the politics. They will have to let the water through particularly from May to September which is peak monsoon flow season. It is all dhamki that they will stop our water.

Let’s assume India decides to store and build storage for 10MAF on the eastern rivers, which it could do. But the day India takes over 5% Pakistan can go to the IWC Tribunal or even the ICJ. Both these courses are open to us, without need for recourse to diplomatic spats or armed threats.

TFT: So India just sat there all these years?

JI: The IWT of 1960 has a clause that says that for 30 years, other than these approved projects, India and Pakistan can’t interfere in each other’s waters and cannot make any structures on rivers allocated to the other country. Even beyond the 30 years if India wishes to develop dams or barrages on the western rivers they will need to share the design so Pakistani experts can ensure that the parameters of minimum water storage are being complied with.

We are making them on the western rivers, but they are already approved. We did Mangla, then Tarbela and then we had approval for two or three more. We have exclusive use by the treaty. We can keep on making dams on these western rivers whether for hydel or storage.

India started planning in 1987 because the 30 years were to be over in 1990. They prepared for Wullar barrage in 1987 and for Baglihar around 1996-97. It was completed in 2011-12. Kishanganga started in 2007-2008 and is still being planned and it is a problem as it is on the Neelum. They state it is their river, which we dispute since it is a tributary of the Jhelum, meeting at Muzaffarabad and will directly impact the inflows into our river rights. These design features are still under adjudication by the Arbitrator under IWT provisions, which Pakistani experts are pursuing vigorously.

Whatever they did was after 1990. The clauses said you can do hydro, you can do run-of-the river and you can do storage, but not more than what the clauses specify, which is why we objected to the design of Baglihar and Wullar. In Wullar barrage our position was held up. In Baglihar our contention was modified. India had actually offered in 2008-09 that they were willing to modify the design just enough to to maintain what is called the mean dead level.

You are allowed to keep a mean dead level of water otherwise the damn starts to silt up. But the PPP government at the time insisted on going to the international court. At the end of the day, even if there is a difference of say 1MAF, is it worth bad relations?

https://www.thefridaytimes.com/tft/can-india-really-threaten-pakistan-over-water/

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