Prime Minister Narendra Modi is on his visit to Jammu and Kashmir where he inaugurated two hydroelectric projects on Saturday. He specified the project as government’s political will which will respond to Pakistan’s use of terrorism against India with every option at its command as Pakistan use India’s full share of water from western tributaries of the river Indus.
In Bandipore, PM inaugurated 330-MW Kishanganga hydel station and layed the foundation of the 1,000-MW Pakul Dul project in Kishtwar. It will follow PM’s decision to review water use within the ambit of the 1960 Indus Water Treaty (IWT) with enemy country Pakistan.
On September 18, 2016, Pakistan attacked the Indian Army base at Uri, Jammu and that attack killed 18 Indian soldiers. Seeing Pak’s attack, the decision to maximize water use was taken. 11 days later after the attack, PM addressing meeting of government officials said, ” Blood and water cannot flow together.” It was a clear message to Pak which means stop backing terror attacks on India or lose the liberal water flow in excess of the treaty’s provisions at present.
The decision then follows three hydel projects on Chenab and its tributary – Sawalkote (1,856 MW), Pakal Dul (1,000 MW) and Bursar (800 MW). PM’s decision to build infrastructure on rivers Indus, Chenab, Jhelum and on their tributaries is part of the Modi government’s plan in view for utilizing India’s share of water from Indus’s western tributaries.
With the acceleration of pending hydel projects, India will be able to use as much of Indus water which India is allowed to use under the water treaty. It will also allow Delhi for constructing storage capacities on the western rivers up to 3.6 million acre-feet (MAF) for various purpose like domestic use.
The water supply of Pakistan is decreasing due to various reasons such as climate change, outdated farming techniques, and an exploding population. US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations published a report in the year 2011 and the report stated, “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.”
There had been many proposed projects pending on the Indus and its tributaries for at least a decade in a queue for clearance. In January 2017, government-constituted environment committee cleared Sawalkote project which was given techno-economic approval in 1991. While the Pakal Dul which has now been resolved was stuck in litigation for the longer period.