LAHORE/NEW DELHI: In response to an Indian minister’s statement that his country has decided to stop the flow of water to Pakistan from its share in the rivers under the Indus Water Treaty (IWT), Pakistan says it has no concern if India diverts water of eastern rivers (Ravi, Sutlej and Beas).
Talking to Dawn on Thursday, secretary of Pakistan’s Ministry of Water Resources Khawaja Shumail said: “We have neither concern nor objection if India diverts water of eastern rivers and supplies it to its people or uses it for other purposes, as the IWT allows it do so.”
As issuance of harsh statements by Indian authorities continues after the terrorist attack in Pulwama, Nitin Gadkari, India’s transport and water resources minister, said in a Twitter message earlier on Thursday: “Under the leadership of Honourable PM Sri Narendra Modi, our Government has decided to stop our share of water which used to flow to Pakistan. We will divert water from Eastern Rivers and supply it to our people in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab.”
Mr Shumail said Pakistan did not see Mr Gadkari’s tweet as worrisome in context with the IWT. “Actually India wants to construct Shahpurkandi dam at the Ravi basin. This project is abandoned since 1995. Now they (India) want to construct this in a bid to use its own share of water that goes unutilised and finally flows to Pakistan. So if they want to use this whether through storing it through construction of this dam or any other way for their people, they can do as we have nothing to do with it,” he added.
“But we will definitely express our concerns and raise objections strongly if they use or divert waters of western rivers (Chenab, Indus, Jhelum) on which our right to use prevails,” he maintained.
According to Pakistan’s Commissioner for Indus Waters Syed Mehr Ali Shah, as the IWT has already given a right to India in 1960 to use the water of eastern rivers it is now up to it to do so or not. “Whether they diverted and used their unutilised share of eastern rivers’ waters in 1960, we had no problem. They want to do it now, we have no problem. And if they don’t want to use this, we have no issue,” Mr Shah said.
He said the planned Shahpurkandi dam was actually the stage-2 of the Ranjit Sagar dam. “Though this project will also generate power, it will be used for irrigation purposes,” he added.
While commenting about the proposed visit of Indian experts (India’s commissioner for Indus waters) to Kotri Barrage (Sindh, Pakistan) keeping in view the tension between the two countries after the Pulwama terrorists attack, the commissioner said: “Let’s see what happens in this regard. But we hope for the best.”