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We will stop 'our share of water' from flowing into Pakistan, says Indian minister

Updated February 22, 2019

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India will divert water from the three eastern rivers under its control of the Indus Water System and supply it to Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab.  — File
India will divert water from the three eastern rivers under its control of the Indus Water System and supply it to Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab. — File

The Indian government announced on Thursday that it would divert its share of what it claims is "unutilised water that comes into Pakistan" with the aim of improving the availability of water in the Yamuna, the second largest tributary of India's Ganges river, Hindustan Times reported.

The publication quoted Indian Minister of Water Resources Nitin Gadkari as saying on Wednesday: “After formation of India and Pakistan, India and Pakistan got the right to use waters in three rivers each. The water from our three rivers is going to Pakistan. Now, we are planning to build a project and divert the water from these three rivers into Yamuna river. Once this happens, Yamuna will have more water.”

The minister tweeted the same today, confirming that Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had supported the decision.

"Under the leadership of Hon'ble PM Sri @narendramodi 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," read the tweet.

A follow-up tweet said that the construction of a dam had begun on the Ravi river at Shahpur Kandi.

"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," it added.

Despite repeated attempts, DawnNewsTV could not reach the Foreign Office spokesperson for a comment on the development.

Indus Waters Treaty

The 1960 Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) gives Pakistan control over the waters of the Indus, Chenab and Jhelum Rivers. The treaty gives India control over three eastern rivers — Beas, Ravi and Sutlej.

India may also use the waters of the western rivers in “non-consumptive” ways. It interprets this as a permission to build “run-of-the-river” hydel projects that do not change the course of the river and do not deplete the water level downstream.

While the treaty allows India to divert the waters of the eastern rivers, it can only tap into 3.6 MAF of water from the western rivers for irrigation, transport and power generation.

Experts at the Indus River System Authority (IRSA) complain that India has been constructing huge water storages on all six Indus basin rivers, not just on the three under its full control.