State prepared to counter Pak claims over Tawi Barrage

Greater Kashmir

Jammu, Feb 16: The state government has made full preparations to defend the prestigious Tawi barrage project (first-ever artificial lake in Jammu and Kashmir) before the high-level panel of Pakistani experts arriving here on February 20 to assess the designs of the proposed project.
The barrage, being developed with the twin purposes of augmentation of the irrigation network in Jammu and its peripheries and adding to the attraction of the temple city, was mired in controversy after Pakistan raised objections that it would violate the sharing of river waters agreed upon in the Indus Water Treaty between the two countries.
Official sources said a three member panel from Pakistan will arrive in Jammu on February 20 and will stay here till February 23.
The team will also visit the main heads of Ranbir and Partap canals over river Chenab at Akhnoor, besides inspecting Salal Hydroelectric Power project in Reasi district.
Sources in the government said that the state experts have devised a strong defensive against the objections which the Pakistani panel is likely to raise during its visit.
The main objection of Pakistan is based on the argument is that since Tawi is a tributary of river Chenab, which is one of the three major rivers coming in the ambit of the Treaty —the other two being Jhelum and Indus—  the usage of its waters is also covered under the 1960 World Bank brokered treaty.
A senior official requesting anonymity told Greater Kashmir, “The proposed lake along river Tawi doesn’t come under the purview of the Treaty, but still Pakistan has raised objections and it is sending its team to assess the construction of the lake and its implications on the water flow to Pakistan.”
“We have nothing to hide and the lake is being developed as per the provisions of the Treaty. Let the team from Pakistan come and examine the lake project,” he remarked.
The estimated cost of the project is Rs 110 crore and the government has set 24-month deadline for the completion of the project.
The Minister for PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control, Taj Mohi-ud-Din said, “Three experts from Pakistan will inspect the design of the lake.”
He, however, said there is no violation of the Treaty and the design of the lake is “strictly” as per its provisions.
When contacted, Chief Engineer Irrigation and Flood Control, B R Dogra remarked, “This is a routine visit of the Pakistani experts to Jammu and Kashmir and they will visit the Ranbir, Pratap canals besides inspecting the Salal Hydro-electric project.”
The lake is under construction over the river Tawi, which runs through the state’s winter capital of Jammu. The river originates from Bhaderwah area in Doda district and traverses to Jammu before merging with Chenab which flows to Pakistan.
The IWT is a water-sharing treaty between the India and Pakistan, brokered by the World Bank. The treaty was signed in Karachi on September 19, 1960 by first Prime Minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru and President of Pakistan Muhammad Ayub Khan.
The treaty gives powers to Pakistan to monitor the water usage of the three rivers from Jammu and Kashmir into Pakistan while India monitors three rivers–Ravi, Sutlej and Beas – flowing from Punjab into Pakistan.
The artificial lake project was taken up last year, though it was conceived way back in the 1970s. It was aimed to add to the beauty of Jammu city.
On November 6, 2010, the state government had started work on this prestigious project for attracting tourists and augmenting water for irrigation purpose in parts of district Jammu but it received a letter regarding the visit of the Pakistani team last month.