India rejects allegations of waging `water war` with Pak

India on Saturday described as "preposterous and completely unwarranted" the allegations that it is stealing Pakistan`s share of river waters and waging a water war.

Islamabad: India on Saturday described as
"preposterous and completely unwarranted" the allegations that
it is stealing Pakistan`s share of river waters and waging a
water war, saying it is "scrupulously" providing Pakistan its
share of water in line with the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty.

Addressing an event in Karachi, Indian High
Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal said reduced flow of river
waters into Pakistan are not the result of any "violation of
Indus Waters Treaty by India or any action on our part to
divert such flows or to use more than our assigned share of
water from Western Rivers".
"Water issue between India and Pakistan is spoken of
as an issue whose resolution is essential to build peace
between our two countries.

"Preposterous and completely unwarranted allegations
of `stealing water` and waging a `water war` are being made
against India," Sabharwal told the event organised by the
Karachi Council on Foreign Relations and Pakistan-India
Citizens Friendship Forum.

"Such accusations bear no relation whatsoever to the
reality on the ground. The fact is that India has been
scrupulously providing Pakistan its share of water in keeping
with the Indus Waters Treaty," he underlined.

Differences over the sharing of river waters have
emerged as a major irritant in bilateral relations over the
past few years. Pakistan even raised its concerns in this
regard during its recent strategic dialogue with the US.

Sabharwal pointed out that India itself suffered
serious drought conditions last year, with around 250
districts bearing the brunt of drought.

Rainfall during the monsoons was 20 per cent less than
normal countrywide, with many states in the north experiencing
a much higher percentage of shortfall.

He also said water flows in rivers depend on melting
of snow and quantum of rainfall, and the quantum of water in
the Western Rivers varies from year to year, "dipping in
certain years and recovering in some subsequent years".
Sabharwal pointed out that the flow of the Chenab,
after entering Pakistan, had dipped from 48,242 cusecs in 1999
to 22,991 cusecs in 2008.

"We have never hindered water flows to which Pakistan
is entitled, not even during the wars of 1965 and 1971 as well
as other periods of tense relations and we have no intention
of doing so," Sabharwal said.

"Those who allege that India is acquiring the capacity
to withhold Pakistan?s share of water completely ignore the
fact that this would require a storage and diversion canals
network on a large scale. Such a network simply does not exist
and figures nowhere in our plans," he added.

Sabharwal made it clear that the Indus Waters Treaty
does not require India to "deliver any stipulated quantities
of water to Pakistan" and instead, it requires India to "let
flow to Pakistan the water available in these rivers,
excluding the limited use permitted to India by the Treaty".

The Indian envoy also dismissed Pakistan?s complaint
that India has not been regularly providing data of water
flows, saying the two countries exchange daily data on about
"600 Gauge and Discharge sites on a monthly basis".

He added: "India has been fulfilling its obligation
in providing this data."

Referring to allegations in the Pakistani media about
India building "hundreds" of dams and hydroelectric projects
to "deny Pakistan its share of water", Sabharwal said: "This
does not correspond to the reality on the ground. There are no
quantitative limits on the hydroelectricity that India can
produce using the Western Rivers".

He said there is also no limit to the number of
run-of- the river projects that India can build.

"However, India has so far undertaken a limited
number of projects. We have provided information to respect of 33 projects. Out of these, 14 are in
operation, 13 are under construction, two are still at the
proposal stage, three have been dropped or deferred and work
on one project stands suspended."
Twenty-two other projects have been identified for
implementation in the coming years, he said.

The Treaty requires India to provide certain
"specified technical information to Pakistan at least
six months" before beginning the construction of river works
for a hydroelectric or storage project and India has been
meeting this obligation too, he said.

One such project was the Tulbul Navigation scheme, on
which India unilaterally stopped work in October 1986 as a
"gesture of goodwill".

Sabharwal described as a "piece of misinformation"
that a dam and hydroelectric project is being built by the
Afghan government on the Kabul River with India’s assistance
and this would adversely affect flows of this river to
Pakistan. "I would like to inform you that there is no truth
in this allegation," he said.

Describing the Indus Waters Treaty as an "example of
mutually beneficial cooperation between India and Pakistan for
the last 50 years", Sabharwal said the pact has withstood the
test of time.

He said the Permanent Indus Commission should be used
more effectively and could even function in the "nature of a
consultative dispute avoidance body".