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Indian-controlled Kashmir govt counts loss from Indus water treaty

05-12-2011 14:41 BJT

SRINAGAR, Indian-controlled Kashmir, May 12 (Xinhua) -- The local government in Indian-controlled Kashmir has initiated a process of calculating the losses resulted from the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) signed between India and Pakistan half a century ago.

The government has issued an advertisement seeking proposals from the multinational consultancies for assessing and quantifying the losses suffered by Indian-controlled Kashmir on account of IWT.

"We have been arguing about the losses to the region due to the IWT. But we don't have accurate figures available with us to substantiate our claim. So we are seeking offers from reputed consultancies around the globe to assess loss on scientific basis, " said Iftikhar Ahmad Kakroo, Deputy Managing Director of Power Development Corporation in Indian-controlled Kashmir.

Post-partition of the subcontinent, water sharing was a major problem between India and Pakistan. The issue was resolved with the arbitration of the World Bank, then the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and a settlement in the name of IWT was reached in September 19, 1960.

The agreement puts riders on how the two countries use and share the water resources.

Out of the six rivers in what is called the Indus basin, India has exclusive rights over the waters of the three major Eastern rivers - Ravi, Beas and Sutlej before they enter Pakistan, while Pakistan has rights to three large Western rivers that first flow through Indian-controlled Kashmir - Indus, Jhelum and Chenab.

The treaty has withstood two wars and numerous conflicts between the two nuclear-armed rivals.

The water-sharing agreement, however, restricts Indian- controlled Kashmir from fully exploiting its hydro-resources for irrigation and power generation.

The pro-Indian political parties in the region are seeking scrapping of the treaty and terming it "discriminatory".

Experts say Indian-controlled Kashmir has potential of 20,000 MWs of power generation but in the wake of IWT the potential cannot be harnessed fully by the region.

There are varying figures about the loss to the region due to the IWT. One such figure puts it around 4.47 billion U.S. dollars.

"This IWT is a bottleneck for which the region has forgone its development of industry, power, and agriculture for the last 50 years. Roughly calculating around 200 billion Indian rupees (4.47 billion U.S. dollars) is the loss of development on account of non use of available water resources for agricultural development and for hydro power generation, then consequential impact on expansion of industry, production of goods and services, all these things are opportunity costs on account of this treaty. Therefore, this loss of development is a fundamental question," said Prof. Nisar Ali, region's noted economist.

In 1996 Ali put forth a proposal to claim a compensation of around 1.8 billion U.S. dollars from the central government of India on account of IWT.

Officials said earlier this year Ms Halcrow Consulting India Limited, a part of Ms Halcrow Group of UK, had offered the services to the region's Power Development Corporation.

"The government wants more companies to bid for the process ( assessing losses) and that is the reason we are seeking tenders," said Kakroo.

The region's Chief Minister Omar Abdullah after assuming office once demanded review of IWT, stating the treaty has become " outdated" and both India and Pakistan need to re-visit its provisions and work out a formula under which region can benefit by harnessing the water of its own rivers.

However, the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party is very vocal and critical of government policy in dealing with water resources of Indian-controlled Kashmir. It accuses the Omar Abdullah's National Conference of "selling out" the water resources cheaply for their political ambitions. The party is demanding white paper on alleged sell out of water resources by the National Conference to Government of India owned National Hydro Projects Corporation.

Officials said after loss assessment through technical experts, the region's government will forward the claim to New Delhi.

"Once the government will have concrete figures and authentic data, it will be in a better position to raise the issue with the government of India for compensation," said a top official.

The IWT is regarded as one of the few such international agreements on the sharing of water that has been a success, despite the ongoing rivalry between India and Pakistan.

Editor:Yang Jie |Source: Xinhua

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