On Lands Watered By Indus, Many Opinions Over Treaty Snub To Pak

Even if India opts to rethink the Indus Waters Treaty, it will be hard to do so, experts say.

Jammu: A week after terrorists from Pakistan attacked and killed 18 soldiers in an army base in Uri, India continues to weigh its options for sending a strong message across. One suggestion doing the rounds is that India should rethink the Indus Waters Treaty, signed in 1960.

"Jammu and Kashmir has suffered a lot due to the Indus water sharing treaty. Pakistan had received several concessions when the deal was signed. It is a good thing that there is a rethink on the issue now," Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh said.

While such talk is not new - the treaty has survived two full scale wars and nearly 60 years of strained relations between India and Pakistan - it has never been considered seriously by experts who feel that such a move would be hard to implement.

According to Professor MA Malik of Jammu University, India may not be able to stop or divert Indus river water any time soon, even if it opts to do so. Without dams or reservoirs to store the water, or canals to transport it out of the state - any move to hinder the Indus river flow could cause floods or worse, he said.

Experts feel while it may threaten Pakistan with draught like conditions, India too could pay a high price in terms of environmental damage.

"Long term measures are needed to implement the threat of diverting or stopping water. It takes nearly five to eight years to build a damn, which can have many uses. Until measures are taken on the ground, this (diverting Indus waters) remains a remote possibility," Professor Malik said.

The Indus Waters Treaty or IWT was signed between Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan's president General Ayub Khan in 1960, after World Bank brokered negotiations that lasted almost a decade.

Under the agreement, of the six rivers that flow westward in the sub-continent India has full rights over three - Sutlej, Beas and Ravi - while Pakistan receives the waters of the other three - Jhelum, Chenab and Indus - almost unrestricted.