On Thursday, Union water resources and river development minister Nitin Gadkari tweeted how in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attack, the Modi government had decided to stop the share of water that used to flow into Pakistan and divert it for the use of people in J&K and the Punjab. Speaking to Republic TV, MoS PMO Dr Jitendra Singh elucidated on the modalities and ramifications of the big decision.
Here's how MoS PMO Dr Jitendra Singh put it:
"There are two rivers under discussion which have been referred to in Nitin Gadkari's tweet which are also part of my constitution. Let's not forget that under the Indus Waters Treaty there were three rivers which are a part of India's share namely Ravi, Sutlej and Beas for India and three in Pakistan's share - Jhelum, Chenab and Sindh.
The Shahpur-Kandi dam which has been mentioned in this tweet happens to be on the river Ravi. It has to be explained by the earlier government on why this project has been held on for forty years since the 1970s. Credit goes to PM Modi - due to his personal intervention work has started on the dam and it will be finished in three years.
The water from river Ravi which was inadvertently going to Pakistan and our own share which was going to Pakistan would then be held back. Another river Ujh also happens to a tributary of the same river Ravi. The construction on this project will happen soon.
The technicality of the project is that the total amount of water generated from this dam is 750 mcm. Our requirement on the J-K district Kathua is 250-300 mcm. If the project had not gone ahead nearly two-thirds of water would have gone under Pakistan. The Indus Waters Treaty plan behind the tweet is that now the canal system would be put in place so surplus water which is not being utilised for Jammu and Kashmir could then be flown down to other neighbouring states Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan. It is a huge decision - technically and scientifically - to hold our share without allowing a single drop of water going to Pakistan.
The three rivers were part of India's share in the treaty, but out of magnanimity, also possibly because of the callous approach towards the sanctity of the Indus Waters Treaty, they (previous governments) never bothered to care that the water which was ours was shared with Pakistan. Ravi is a huge river, and the biggest one among three. It is a paradox that in past 40-50 years the entire water of river Ravi was flowing into Pakistan.
The work for Shahpur-Kandi dam which is on the Punjab side of the Punjab-J&K border will be completed in three years. Pakistan was using India's magnanimity or callousness of the earlier government which now stands corrected.
In a way yes, virtually, yes, it is a correction, as Ravi is one of the biggest rivers in the north and the entire water was flowing to Pakistan. It was the responsibility of the government in the past to attend to this but they failed to do so. I credit PM Modi to have corrected the issue
I am being polite when I say magnanimous. Maybe they were too callous. Shahpur-Kandi dam was conceived 40 years ago in the 1970s, in 1976-77. But none of the governments carried it forward and on one or the other pretext it was stalled. It's a joint project between the Centre, Punjab and J&K and beneficiaries are border districts of Gurdaspur, border districts of Samba and Kathua which are located on the Indo-Pak border.
Not utilizing this river, and the entire river flowing to Pakistan and under Indus Waters Treaty, we had given our share from three rivers to Pakistan and inadvertently had allowed a fourth river to flow into Pakistan which was our share.
Pakistan was receiving more share than what is under the treaty. Now this will stand corrected. Shahpur-Kandi dam will block that flow of river and Ujh project for which technicality was such that 2/3rds of the water had to go into Pakistan but now a plan will be in place to come up with a canal system so the water will not be flow into Pakistan but will go into Rajasthan, Haryana and Punjab."
The 1960 Indus Waters Treaty, brokered by the World Bank and signed by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan's president Ayub Khan, administers how the water of the Indus river and its tributaries that flow in both the countries will be utilised.
Under the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty 1960, waters of the eastern rivers Sutlej, Beas and Ravi had been allocated to India and the western rivers - the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab to Pakistan, except for certain non-consumptive uses for India.
The Shahpur-Kandi project will create an additional irrigation potential of 5,000 hectares in Punjab and 32,173 hectares in Jammu & Kashmir. In addition, Punjab will also be able to generate 206 MW of hydro-power.
An IMF study said that Pakistan is the third most affected country in the world in terms of acute water shortage. Closing the taps is likely to send a strong message that Pakistan cannot continue to perpetrate terrorism from its soil with impunity.
As per a media report Pakistan has been attempting to divert the water from river Ravi. The report said that the water from the river was being steadily diverted to run 600-1,000 metres inside Pakistan. If Pakistan had been successful in its attempt, it would affect India's Punjab as no water would be available for agricultural use.