India to build 3 dams on Chenab: PM Modi reviews Indus treaty with Pakistan

Islamabad fears that since the source rivers of the Indus basin are in India, it could potentially create drought and famine in Pakistan during times of war. Photograph:( Reuters )

WION New Delhi, Delhi, India Sep 26, 2016, 10.14 AM (IST)

India will expedite the construction of three dams on River Chenab, Prime Minister Narendra Modi decided in a high-level meeting he chaired in New Delhi today to review the sharing of water as per the Indus treaty with Pakistan. 

The three dams are Pakul Dul, Sawalkot and Bursar Dam on the Chenab river. India has also decided to use its legal rights in the Indus treaty to the fullest. An inter-ministerial task force for Indian rights will be formed for western rivers under the treaty. India will also use the potential of 18,000 megawatt of power from the western rivers under Indus water treaty, official sources told WION.

The decision follows the attack, called the worst in two decades, on an army brigade in Jammu and Kashmir's Uri on September 18 in which 18 Indian Army soldiers were killed. Following the terror attack there was an immediate clamour for a retaliation against Pakistan that is widely believed to be behind the ambush in Uri in India, but PM Modi brushed aside all talk of war. 

Amid India's increasing efforts to isolate Pakistan diplomatically on the issue of "exporting terror'', India's review of the Indus Treaty is another step in exerting more pressure on Pakistan. 

The Indus Water Treaty was signed between the two South Asian neighbours in 1960. The meeting looked at the pros and cons of the treaty under which India and Pakistan share the waters of six rivers. 

The treaty gives up to 80 per cent of the water from six rivers — the Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum — shared by the two countries to Pakistan, and has, therefore, been called in India "too soft" on Pakistan.  

National security advisor (NSA), foreign secretary, water resources secretary, and senior PMO officials were present in the meeting on Indus Treaty. 

Water ministry sources said a presentation was given to the Prime Minister about the implications of the treaty on India-Pakistan relations. 

Officials at the Pakistan foreign ministry are still waiting for any official intimation with regards to the Indus Water Treaty. "There are commissioners on both sides that communicate with each other. We will see what changes India is proposing. They cannot do anything that is not in the agreement, and the World Bank is guarantor to that," the official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. 

He stressed upon the fact that the treaty took 12 years to finalise. "Pakistan and India negotiated for twelve years to settle on this agreement. A lot of effort went into it," the official added.

Meanwhile, some commentators have taken to the social media reminding 'India that if it wages a water war on Pakistan, China - Pakistan's all-weather friend will do the same with India and use water as war tool.'

Last week, India's foreign affairs ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup had said that there were differences between the two neighbours on implementing the Indus Waters Treaty.

He had also said that any cooperative arrangement requires goodwill and mutual trust on both sides. 

(WION with inputs from agencies)