India on Thursday said it will no longer allow its share of river waters to flow into Pakistan, signalling that it was taking a close look at punitive measures it can take as an upper riparian country following the Pulwama terror attack in which 40 soldiers were killed. Water resources minister Nitin Gadkari made the announcement on social media platform Twitter: “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.”
This was in line with some of the government’s earlier decision to harness the rivers Ravi and Beas better. According to the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty, the eastern rivers of the water system — Sutlej, Ravi and Beas — were to be with India while Pakistan would get Indus, Jhelum and Chenab. On the main river Indus too, India was given the right to exploit without disturbing the flow or quantum.
However, India has not exploited the waters of Ravi and Beas largely due to inter-state disputes. Gadkari had last month succeeded in bringing chief ministers of six states — Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Rajasthan and Delhi — to sign an MoU to mutually store, divert and exploit India’s share in the Indus river system. J&K’s governor also recently gave the go-ahead to the Ujh (branch of river Ravi) project for the same purpose.
On Wednesday, Gadkari while addressing a rally in Baghpat, said: “Bharat aur Pakistan hone ke baad, humaari teen nadiyan Pakistan ko mili thi aur teen Bharat ko mili thi. Humaare teen nadiyon ke adhikaar ka paani Pakistan mein jaa raha tha, ab us par teen project karke yeh paani bhi Yamuna mein wapas la rahe hain (India and Pakistan got three rivers each. The water which we rightfully owned was going into Pakistan. Now water of those three rivers will be diverted to Yamuna through three projects.)”
Officials, however, clarified that this move does not violate the Indus Waters Treaty; instead it’s aimed at harnessing the amount of water entitled to India.