Indus Waters Treaty
A potential, which if tapped can serve a great deal
JK PERSPECTIVE BY JAVED SHAHMIRI
The IWT concluded in 1960, was hailed as a big achievement at that time and has by and large stood the test of time though with minor hiccups. I am not aware if the J&K State was consulted during negotiations of the treaty, but it is clear that the interests of the state were not kept in mind and it seems the JK also was not aware of the adverse implications the treaty would have on the development of the state. May be the implications were over looked.
The land locked J&K State has logistical problems in the development of industry and does not have significant renewable resources other than water and forests. The utilization of its main resource, water however is severely restricted by the IWT. The treaty provides for unrestricted use of 3 eastern rivers namely Ravi, Beas and Satluj to India and the three western rivers Indus, Jehlum and Chenab to Pakistan, which all flow through J&K, unlike the three eastern rivers which flow through India all along. What is not commonly known, however, is that severe restrictions have been provided on the total storage capacity which can be created in J&K on Indus, Chenab and Jehlum basins. The allowable power storage capacity on Indus is 0.15 MAF, on Jehlum 0.25 MAF and on Chenab 1.20 MAF.
Accordingly, the state has been forced to consider only ‘run off the river’ projects. The total hydel potential in the state has been assessed at about 20,000 MW, mostly on the basis of ‘run of the river’ schemes with some small storage capacity in the upper reaches of the three Western rivers, limited to the maximum permissible under the IWT. There are further restrictions in water levels etc. and there is practically no effective storage on the main Chenab upto Kishtwar.
Moreover, there is no live storage at Salal and only weekly storage at Baglihar 0.03 MAF, Dulhasti 0.007 MAF and a storage of 1.1 MAF is proposed at Burser on a Tributary of Chenab. The available hydrological data, puts the mean annual flow of Jehlum at 6.5 MAF and Chenab at 20.0 MAF.
If unrestricted storage was permissible in J&K, it could be utilized to store the summer discharge and generate much needed power in winter months when the demand of power is at its peak in the state. As the rivers are snow fed; the river discharge dwindles in winter months Sept. to Feb. and the generation of power goes down to 25 to 30% of the installed capacity and the state is obliged to run high cost gas based generation and import costly power from central government power stations besides other sources.
An analysis of hydro projects shows that energy loss due to IWT restrictions works out to 30 to 50%. The energy loss in case of Uri and Salal is of the order of 44% and 50% respectively. Considering that the hydro potential of the State is about 20,000 MW, annual energy loss works out to 60,000 million units valuing Rs. 12,000 crores at Rs. 2.00 per unit per year, which is substantially less than the prevalent market rate.
Apart from the restrictions on power generation, the treaty imposes restrictions on new area development for agriculture. It specifies that new area developed shall not exceed 1.5 lac acres on Jehlum basin and 0.5 lac acres on Chenab basin. This area is in addition to the area existing on 1.4.1960. The total permissible area comes to 10.15 lac acres. However, this limit has already been utilized by the state and the state is facing difficulties in developing more agriculture land inspite of the fact that it is a deficit state in food grain production and large quantities have to be imported. This loss also runs into thousands of crores.
All told, the restrictions result in a colossal waste and need to be removed by whole hearted cooperation between India and Pakistan, for the betterment of the state and improving the quality of life of the people of the state and the sub-continent. Actually if the entire power potential of the state is allowed to be utilized, the power generation can be run as an industry on commercial lines and the state can supply surplus power to the entire region. This can only come once the trust deficit between the two countries is overcome and they work together for the betterment of the large number of their poverty stricken people. A joint management of the Western Rivers in J & K covered under the treaty if possible, would be a way out.
(This is the text of the speech delivered by the author at India-Pakistan Conference on Water organised by The Centre for Dialogue and Reconciliation (CDR), in collaboration with the Aman Ki Asha Initiative by Times of India and Jang Group in New Delhi, on July 29-30, 2010. Javed Shahmiri has worked in Hydro Power for over 40 years. He has been Director Projects NHPC for three years and retired after working as Managing Director, J&K Power Development Corporation for about five years)
Lastupdate on : Sun, 15 Aug 2010 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sun, 15 Aug 2010 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Mon, 16 Aug 2010 00:00:00 IST
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