At an election rally in Charkhi Dadri in Haryana, PM Narendra Modi said that India will no longer allow its share of water to flow to Pakistan and added that he will get back the water which belongs to farmers of Rajasthan, Haryana and the country. He also said that work towards realising this objective has already started. We will now examine this claim of PM Modi and the steps taken by his government regarding the same.
After Uri Attacks in 2016, PM Modi set up an Inter-Ministerial Task force to completely review the Indus water treaty and suggest measures to ensure India fully utilize the share of water allocated to it. Reportedly, the PM’s remark at that time was ‘blood and water cannot flow together’.
Following the setting up of the inter-ministerial task force, a number of hydro-electric , irrigation and dam projects in Indus river which were stalled due to various reasons were reviewed and work was put on fast-track.
Kishanganga Hydropower Project was inaugurated by PM Modi on 19th of May, 2018 with a capacity to produce 330 MW of power on river Kishanganga, a tributary of Jhelum. This project involved the diversion of the Kishanganga river into an underground powerhouse near Bandipur and the discharge of the water into the Wular lake. This also has an immense strategic significance due to its proximity to border with Pakistan.
He also laid the foundation stone for Pakal Dul Dam situated on a tributary of Chenab River at the cost of Rs 8,112 crores. The project to be completed in 66 months will not only generate 650 MU of electricity but is also a storage type project which will improve the water availability during the lean season.
As earlier reported, the cabinet on December 6, 2018 also sanctioned Shahpurkandi Dam in Punjab to be constructed on the Ravi River. The project which would be completed by June 2022 would potentially irrigate an additional 5,000 ha in Punjab and 32,173 ha in J&K and would reduce the amount of the water of the Ravi river flowing downstream to Pakistan at present.
Construction of the Ujh multipurpose project will create a storage of about 781 million cubic metres of water on Ujh, a tributary of Ravi, for irrigation and power generation and provide a total irrigation benefits of 31,380 hectares in Kathua, Hiranagar and Samba districts of Jammu and Kashmir.
There is also a proposal to build a barrage to distribute unutilised Ujh waters by linking the Ravi and the Beas rivers. This will be the second Ravi-Beas link to be constructed after a gap of 70 years. Along with the Shahpurkundi projects, this Ujh link will tap the remaining 0.58 MAF water flowing into Pakistan. This project is further expected to help with irrigation needs of Haryana, Rajasthan and Punjab.
Ratle project, an 850MW hydro-electric project which was conceptualised in mid-2000s but got caught in a contractual dispute was finally resolved after intervention by the PMO and an MoU was signed between the J&K government and NHPC in February 2019. It is to be noted that India decided to go ahead with this project despite the objections raised by Pakistan.
So, the PM was indeed right when he claimed in a span of five years his government has taken decisive steps to utilize India’s share of waters of Indus completely and cut-off water ‘wastefully’ flowing to Pakistan.