#WaterPowerplay: Indus treaty in lumber amid subcontinent water wars; China leaves Mekong dry

22 March, 2021 | newsx bureau

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India and Pakistan are set to hold a meeting in Delhi to discuss the Indus water sharing issue on March 23-24. The meet is held annually although after a gap of two years. In this meet, the officia...

The Ken-Betwa river is the country’s first ever interlinking project. The aim of the project is to transfer surplus water from the Ken river in MP to Betwa in UP to irrigate the drought-prone Bundelkhand region across the districts of two states namely Jhansi, Banda, Lalitpur and Mahoba districts of UP and Tikamgarh, Panna and Chatapur districts of MP. The agreement was signed by Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhwat, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan.

On the other hand, India and Pakistan are set to hold a meeting in Delhi to discuss the Indus water sharing issue on March 23-24. The meet is held annually although after a gap of two years. In this meet, the officials of India and Pakistan will be discussing water sharing issues. It is no doubt that India has cleared several hydropower projects in Ladakh although Pakistan has raised objection against them. It is believed that a delegation of Pakistani officials will reach India around 10 am on Monday.

Under the provisions of the Indus Treaty, the Commissioners of both the countries are deemed to meet once a year.  India and Pakistan had signed a treaty for sharing of river waters of the Indus drainage system in 1960. The agreement was mediated by the World Bank and named as the Indus Waters Treaty. Under this treaty, Pakistan got a favorable division of waters of the six rivers of the Indus system. Pakistan was given rivers that had greater volumes of flowing water whereas India was allocated the waters of the Sutlej, the Beas and the Ravi the three less voluminous eastern tributaries of the Indus. More voluminous rivers, the Indus and its western tributaries, the Jhelum and Chenab went to Pakistan.

Pakistan had said that its delegation of water experts would visit India to attend the meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission and discuss various water-related issues. The 116th meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission will be held in New Delhi on March 23 and 24,  the Delegation will be lead by Pakistan’s Commissioner for Indus Waters Syed Muhammad Meher Ali Shah , while the Indian delegation will be led by India’s Indus Commissioner PK Saxena with his advisors from the Central Water Commission, Central Electricity Authority and National Hydroelectric Power Corporation.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, ” To save the country from the water crisis, it is now necessary to work in this direction. The Ken-Betwa Link Project is also part of this vision. Ken Betwa link project will not only save water but will generate electricity. Earlier, out of 19 crore rural families, only 3.5 crore had direct water in their houses”. 

Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh will sign an agreement to implement the Ken-Betwa Link Project on Monday, according to the Jal Shakti Ministry. It is under the link project, water from the Ken river will be transferred to Betwa River. This project involves transfer of water from the Ken to the Betwa river through the construction of Daudhan Dam and a canal linking the two rivers, the Lower Orr project, Kotha Barrage and Bina Complex Multipurpose Project.

The PMO statement states that the project will be of immense benefit to the water starved region of Bundelkhand, especially to the districts of Panna, Tikamgarh, Chhatarpur, Sagar, Damoh, Datia, Vidisha, Shivpuri and Raisen of Madhya Pradesh and Banda, Mahoba, Jhansi and Lalitpur of Uttar Pradesh. However, the project had been experiencing many obstacles, one of them had been the disagreement between the States. It includes the deforestation of a portion of the Panna Tiger Reserve. 

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In a statement issued Sunday, the ministry said, “In the presence of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi, the Union Minister of Jal Shakti and the Chief Ministers of Madhya Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh will sign a historic agreement on 22nd March 2021 to implement the Ken Betwa Link Project (KBLP), the first project of the National Perspective Plan for interlinking of rivers, through video conferencing/ virtual platform.” 

“This agreement will herald the beginning of inter-state cooperation to implement the vision of Sh. Atal Bihari Vajpayee to carry water from areas that have surplus water to drought prone and water deficit areas through the interlinking of rivers,” the statement said. Not only that, it will provide annual irrigation of 10.62 lakh hectares, drinking water supply to about 62 lakh people and also generate 103 MW of hydropower”. 

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