JK Assembly Unites on Revision of Indus Water Treaty
SRINAGAR: In a rare show of unity, the ruling legislators in Jammu and Kashmir assembly Monday joined hands with their counterparts in the Opposition to demand revision of the Indus Water Treaty which governs the use of the state's rich water resources for power generation.
The issue came up during discussion on grants for the state's power ministry which is headed by senior BJP leader and J&K's deputy chief minister Dr Nirmal Singh. Khalil Bandh, the MLA of the ruling PDP, told the House that the treaty, brokered between India and Pakistan by World Bank in 1960, must be revised.
"The treaty has resulted in colossal losses which could have otherwise turned the fortune of Jammu and Kashmir. We must seek its revision so that the rich water resources of the state are fully exploited and the ailing economy of the state is bolstered," Bandh, who represents south Kashmir's Pulwama assembly segment, told the House.
According to the treaty, India gets exclusive rights over three rivers - Ravi Beas and Sutlej - flowing in the East before they enter Pakistan while as the latter country has usage rights over the waters of Indus, Jhelum and Chenab that meander through Jammu and Kashmir.
Urging the PDP-BJP coalition government to seek compensation from the Centre, senior National Conference leader, Ali Mohammad Sagar, who represents Srinagar's Khanyar assembly segment, told the House that the treaty has resulted in huge losses for Jammu and Kashmir.
"It is our first right to exploit the water resources of the state. But the treaty tramples upon that right and treats the state of Jammu and Kashmir as a non-entity. We should seek compensation from the government of India for causing losses to the state in the last sic decades," Sagar said.
According to rough estimates, the state of Jammu and Kashmir has suffered losses over Rs 20,000 crore because of the treaty which governs the exploitation of waters in Jhelum, Chenab and Indus for hydro-power generation. The J&K government has also set up a committee which hired a consultant to estimate the losses caused due to the treaty.
Congress legislator from north Kashmir's Bandipora, Usman Majeed, urged the members of the House to put up a united face and demand compensation from New Delhi.
"It is not a question of one political party or the other. It is a matter which concerns the welfare of people of Jammu and Kashmir. We must unite and demand compensation from Centre for losses caused due to the treaty," Majeed, a renegade-turned-mainstream politician, said in the House.
The issue was also raised by other members of different political parties in the House during the discussion on grants for the state's power ministry.