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Gadkari’s ‘water missile’ not new for Pakistan

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New Delhi, Feb 22: When Union Minister for Water Resources Nitin Gadkari on Thursday announced India's plan to stop its rightful share of water under Indus Water Treaty then it was taken as if New Delhi has launched a new 'water missile' to target Pakistan post-Pulwama attack.

Union minister and BJP leader Nitin Gadkari

There is palpable anger in India after the February 14 suicide attack in which a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) killed at least 40 Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel.

However, what Gadkari said is not new for Pakistan as it knows that the Modi government has been working to stop India's water wastage from its share in the Indus Water Treaty much before the Pulwama attack.

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Gadkari on Thursday tweeted, "Under the leadership of Hon'ble PM Sri Narendra Modi ji, Our Govt. 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."

"The construction of the dam has started at Shahpur-Kandi on Ravi river. Moreover, UJH project will store our share of water for use in J&K and the balance water will flow from 2nd Ravi-BEAS Link to provide water to other basin states. All the above Projects are declared as the National projects," he said in a series of tweets.

Earlier in the day while speaking at an event in Baghpat in Uttar Pradesh, Gadkari had spoken about how India was working in the direction to stop extra water from flowing into Pakistan.

Even on January 12, Gadkari had expressed Modi government's plan to divert India's rightful share of water under the Indus Water Treaty to Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Haryana, Delhi, and Himachal Pradesh at the MoU signing function for the construction of Renukaji Multi-Purpose Dam project in the Upper Yamuna Basin.

The Indus Water Treaty gives control over the water flowing in the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej rivers with the mean flow of 33 million acre-feet (MAF) to India, and the water flowing in the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum rivers with the mean flow of 80 MAF to Pakistan.

However, India uses nearly 93-94 percent of its share under the treaty. The rest of the water remains unutilised and goes to Pakistan - this is the water that India wants to stop.

Even, Pakistan Senate's Standing Committee on Water and Power had said in July 2015 that India was using less than its allocated share in the western rivers under the treaty.

It is notable that Prime Minister Modi chaired a review meeting of Indus Water Treaty in July last year and it was decided that India will 'exploit to the maximum' the water of Pakistan-controlled rivers, including Jhelum, as per the water-sharing pact.

Though India's step is not a violation of the treaty, if India manages to stop the current wastage of 7 percent of the water of its share then also it will have a visible effect in Pakistan as around three-quarters of the Pakistani population is dependent on the Indus basin for their livelihoods and drinking water.

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Since the technicalities of bilateral treaties are complex and are not generally understood by the common people, they can be used by politicians to confuse the general public.

Of late Pakistan has been trying to misguide Pakistanis over the Indus Water Treaty to divert their attention from country's water shortage that has resulted from poor utilisation of water, corruption and inadequate investment in dams.

For example, Pakistan's Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi on Monday had written a letter to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and sought his help to reduce the tension between Islamabad and New Delhi after the Pulwama attack.

Out of the context, he also informed the UN Secretary-General that India has also hinted that it may abandon the Indus Waters Treaty, which is a white lie.

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