“After years of tense negotiations, India and Pakistan signed the Indus Waters Treaty in 1960 with the help of the World Bank. As part of the treatyâ€”which is widely viewed by water experts as a model of how water conflicts can be managedâ€”each side got unrestricted use of three rivers and rights to use the others for nonconsumptive purposes such as flood control, navigation and bathing. India was granted limited agricultural usage of Pakistan’s rivers, plus the right to build hydroelectric projects, as long as they don’t store or divert large amounts of water.
The treaty provides for bureaucrats appointed by both governments to meet regularly, exchange data, and resolve disputes. Commissioners have held more than 200 site inspections and meetings since 1960, even during times of war.
Yet Pakistan’s rows with India have intensified as its water situation has worsened over the years. Water availability in Pakistan has fallen 70% since the early 1950s to 1,500 cubic meters per capita. It is expected to reach the 1,000-cubic-meter level considered officially “scarce” by international standards in 25 years, according to a report last year by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.
Pakistani officials acknowledge their water woes aren’t caused by India’s damming of rivers alone. Major reservoirs are filling with sediment picked up by the rivers on their routes to the sea. Canals are aging and breaking down. The World Bank says soil erosion and poor irrigation are sapping roughly 1% from Pakistan’s Gross Domestic Product growth.
Skeptics in India say Pakistan is simply looking for a scapegoat as it struggles to manage its internal water politics…"
2010-04-07 01:11:05 UTC