Nirupama Subramanian

Water inflow has reduced because of low rainfall: India

Pakistan may approach an expert through World Bank

ISLAMABAD: The Chenab is down to a trickle on the Pakistan side, and with officials here in no mood to accept the Indian explanation of a “lean” water year due to low rainfall, the issue is threatening to escalate into yet another full-scale row in a problematic year for the peace process between the two countries.

Pakistan’s Indus Waters Commissioner Jamaat Ali Shah alleged on Thursday that India’s violation of a water-sharing treaty had caused a loss of 2,00,000 acre feet of Chenab waters to Pakistan.

In an interview to Dawn News TV, he said Pakistan was “weighing all options,” including the possibility of approaching a neutral expert through the World Bank, a mechanism provided in the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty.

Pakistan says in August, when it should have been receiving 55,000 cusecs per day, the water flow was between a mere 17,000 cusecs to 19,000 cusecs.

Mr. Shah said the water level fell because India diverted the waters to fill the Baglihar dam. India is entitled to fill the dam, but on the condition that it ensures Pakistan’s daily 55,000 cusecs, he said.

Mr. Shah dismissed as “ridiculous” the Indian position that the Chenab waters had reduced because of low rainfall.

“We have to establish with India that water was reduced and it is in violation of specific provisions of the treaty and if India does not agree, we have a mechanism in the treaty that we knock at the doors of a neutral expert through World Bank,” he said.

He said Pakistan could claim compensation both in “water for water” and in “monetary’ form. Pakistan has said that its standing kharif crop — sugarcane and rice — could be badly affected as a result of the reduced flow, and the wheat sowing in the upcoming rabi season would also suffer.