The inauguration of two hydroelectric projects in Jammu and Kashmir by Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year was expected to change the geo-political scenario with New Delhi making it clear to exercise its options to counter Pakistan the way it likes and not to succumb to the pressures adopted by the neighbour. India till date has not exploited the full potential of water of west bound rivers, which have been the centre of dispute with Pakistan. The inauguration of the 330-MW Kishanganga hydel station in Bandipore and laying of the foundation of the 1,000-MW Pakul Dul project in Kishtwar express the government’s intent to follow through PM’s decision to review water use within the ambit of the 1960 Indus Water Treaty (IWT) with Pakistan. Such a move comes after the Uri army base attack by the Pakistan-supported terrorists claiming the lives of 11 soldiers in September 18, 2016. India has been telling Pakistan to stop backing terror attacks or lose the privilege of getting water beyond the treaty’s provisions at present. Three hydel projects on Chenab and its tributary – Sawalkote (1,856 MW), Pakal Dul (1,000 MW) and Bursar (800 MW) were initiated. Building infrastructure on Indus, Chenab, Jhelum and their tributaries is part of the Modi government’s plan to utilise India’s share of water from western tributaries of the Indus. Pakistan is already facing water shortage and its farm sector too needs large quantity . A 2011 report by the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations said India could use these projects as a way to control Pakistan’s supplies from the Indus, seen as its jugular vein. “The cumulative effect of these projects could give India the ability to store enough water to limit the supply to Pakistan at crucial moments in the growing season,” the report said. Most of the projects proposed on the Indus and its tributaries had been held up for at least a decade awaiting clearances. Sawalkote, which was cleared by a government-constituted environment committee in January 2017, was first given techno-economic approval in 1991. Pakal Dul was stuck in litigation, which has now been resolved. India should create large reservoirs which can meet these surging demands at many places. Pakistan has never reciprocated to India’s humanitarian response equally and there is a need to relook on the free water supplied to it.
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