Indo-Pak and Hydro-politics

Indo-Pak and Hydro-politics

Kashmir is the greatest contributor of hydropower to both India as well as Pakistan with a great economic loss for itself reviewing Rao Farman’s “Water Polity and Kashmir”

So much has been written about the politics of Jammu & Kashmir; so many books having been written on the dispute but rarely somebody had written about the “Hydropolitics” between the two nuclear states of India and Pakistan. Rao Farman Ali Malik in his latest book, “Water Polity and Kashmir” published by Gulshan Books and released by Centre of Central Asian Studies (CCAS) University of Kashmir on 19th June 2018 has given complete description of the hydropolitics between the two countries with reference to the Indus Water Treaty signed by the two countries in 1960 in Karachi over water distribution with World bank as main broker. Indus Water Treaty (IWT) signed by two countries gives them right to full usage and legitimate of three "Eastern" rivers of India — the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej with the mean flow of 33 MAF to India for hydro-electric generation while control over the water flowing in three "Western" rivers of India — the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum with the mean flow of 80 MAF  to Pakistan.

It is a great initiative on behalf of the author to discuss such a fragile issue of hydropolitics between the two nuclear armed rivals as water has been primary interest in the dispute over the Kashmir region and documenting about it is an important issue. Since the origin of K-issue the people of Jammu & Kashmir has been sandwiched between the, ‘Jugular Vein’ and “Integral part” debates brushing aside the sufferings of Kashmiris due the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) which estimates the losses incurred to the people of Jammu & Kashmir to the tune of INR 6500 crores per annum. 

Discussing the hydropolitics of the two nuclear countries referring to the conferences and seminars conducting by both the countries especially at the times of peak tension at the backdrop of Parliament attack and heat up of borders, Pakistan discussed possibility of Water being used as a war weapon by India and possible escalation of nuclear war in that scenario. Many Pakistani columnists, leaders and policymakers had threadbare discussions on it and development of counter strategies being the central theme of all the discussion, seminars and meetings. Not only Pakistan but India is also moving closer to “Danger Zone” in terms of water supplies as per capita availability of water has dropped by roughly 60% and Pakistan rapidly nearing the same crisis. The water shortages would be enough for the generation of serious concerns between the two arch rivals as the population of both the countries is increasing at an alarming rate, groundwater levels depleting and storage a grave concern for both the countries as the Indus carries a greater amount of silt. The author has taken detailed account of the losses suffered by India and Pakistan including huge amount of groundwater losses due the export of food grains per annum, salinity of groundwater especially in Pakistan due to intrusion and excessive mining causing depletion of the water table, possible sectarian divide over water in coming decades and dependence of both the nuclear countries on the glaciers, water bodies and rivers systems of Jammu & Kashmir as it provides a fresh water supply to both the countries. The author has worked hard to collect data from different agencies and as per its data and the sources, India is pursuing 33 hydroelectric power projects on the Indus river alone to cope up with its demand of hydropower. The author has formulated and idea for the sustainable peace which is a water sharing agreement and it can add another milestone in achievement of peace between the two nuclear countries where author strongly pitches for the involvement of the people of Jammu & Kashmir as a party and their involvement in the negotiations between the two countries. 

The author has added a chapter on the Indus Water Treaty between the two countries and this had added the pages unnecessarily in the book, though all the negotiations between the two countries is only with reference to IWT, but it would have been summarized briefly for quick reference without attaching the whole treaty as one complete chapter. The inclusion of IWT as a chapter may be useful for the professionals but to common audience it’s summarized portion is useful and not important going into in-depth technicalities involved in it.

In the chapter 6 of the book, “Game Theory” author describes the payoff matrix of India Pakistan conflict and a move for the settlement of it. He somehow gets convinced himself that Kashmiris won’t be involved in the negotiations between the two countries as he devises the payoff matrix with different possibilities of hardline or compromise between India and Pakistan only, without making another possibility of people of J&K as part of the negotiations. Though right from the beginning the author is pitching for the involvement of the people of Jammu & Kashmir as a party to the IWT and seeking the role of people on either side of LoC and asks for the amendment under Article XII, (3) and (4) and insisting for tangible role of the people on either side and permanent role in Kashmiri waters and to get incorporated as IWT and describes in detail as how much losses kashmiris are suffering by loss of water and hydroelectricity as whole of the northern grid is hooked on Kashmir for its survival but doesn’t give the possibility of Kashmiri angle in the payoff matrix as third possibility. 

Then there is a conclusion in which author beautifully concludes the book describing how India and Pakistan are dependent on the waters of Kashmir for their agriculture, hydropower, irrigation, navigation and sustenance of civilization. Kashmir is the greatest contributor of hydropower to both India as well as Pakistan with a great economic loss for itself. The author has worked lot in compilation of data from different hydro-power companies of Indian controlled Kashmir as well as Pakistan controlled Kashmir with mention of almost all the schemes and projects. The hydropower companies are working on with complete capacity of hydropower generation of each scheme and is a compiled book for the professionals working in hydropower sectors and for the policymakers of both India and Pakistan. It is also important for the people of Jammu and Kashmir as it completely gives an account of losses suffered by the people of J&K and their possibility of being third party to the water dispute as per the right given by different Articles of IWT between India and Pakistan.