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Old Saturday, April 14, 2007
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Buglihar Dam On Chenab River:
i. Introduction:
Water has been the most fundamental source of life. Man around water is analogous to ďfrogs around a pond.Ē But with the rapid growth in human population, shortage of water has become the inevitable consequence, especially in the third world countries. This in turn, made the water resources all the more relevant to peaceful co-existence or otherwise of the neighbouring nations, so mush so that numerous international conflicts grew out of mere water sharing from the same source. Mother nature coins the bounties; the off springs become vultures to grab the ever-bigger share. May it be the Nile or the Amazon, the Euphrates or the Tigris, the Mediterranean or the Pacific, or the Indus, water has been instrumental in the survival of man as well as his demise. Viewed thus, human history has been a saga of unending conflicts. These conflicts are manifested almost everywhere at inter state and intra state levels. Three out of seven South Asian countries, namely Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal are involved in water sharing conflicts with India.
In numerous national and cultural divides, water has been the line of lubrication. The great divide in 1947 b/w India and Pakistan is no exception to it. Boundaries of the two neighbouring states were drawn right across the India Basin in which Pakistan, by virtue of its natural geographical handicap, formed the lower riparian. Consequently, a justifiable water distribution became the bone of contention b/w the two, soon after independence from the British rule. It is worth mentioning without any bias that India, despite repeated assurances to Pakistan of the non-interference with the existing flow of rivers, stopped the supply of water form the two headwork under its control i.e. Madhopur headwork on the Ravi river and Ferouzpur on the Sutlaj river. Shortage of water became so acute and intolerable that it affected 5.5 per cent of Pakistanís arable land and put tremendous strain on the newly born country. In May 1948 a high level delegation from Pakistan rushed to India where it was coerced into signing an agreement at Indiaís bidding before the flow of water was finally resumed.
The then President of the IBRD Eugene Blacks offered the good offices of the Bank for finding a solution regarding the sharing of waters of the Indus basin b/w the two countries. After nine years of negotiations, the Indus Waters Treaty finally signed in September 1960, b/w the president Ayub Khan of Pakistan and PM Jawaharlal Nehru of India with the cooperation of the World Bank, which sought optimum utilization of water of the Indus system of rivers based on principles of equality and fair play.

ii. The Indus Basin Treaty (Sept. 1960):
The treaty made a simple and straightforward attempt to let both adversaries share the available water resources. The divide was as clear as b/w the east and the west i.e. ďthe three western rivers were allocated to Pakistan with some reservations and three eastern rivers were given to India.Ē the project was sponsored by UK, Germany, Australia, New Zealand and Canada and was administered by the IBRD. The treaty fixed the rights and obligation of India and Pakistan in relation to each other, India has been using as average 33 million acre feet of water from the eastern rivers and has built several dams and barrages to supply water to its Punjab province along with its neighbouring states and has also been drawing limited water form the western rivers for irrigation as provided in the treaty. The treaty comprised preamble, following 12 articles and 8 annexes:
1. Definitions
2. Provisions regarding eastern rivers
3. Provisions regarding western rivers
4. Provisions regarding eastern rivers and western rivers
5. Financial provisions
6. Exchange of data
7. Future cooperation
8. Permanent Indus commission
9. Settlement of differences and disputes
10. Emergency provisions
11. General provisions
12. Final provisions
A. Exchange of notes between governments of India and Pakistan
B. Agricultural use by Pakistan from certain tributaries of the Ravi.
C. Agricultural use by India from the western rivers
D. Generation of hydro-electric power by India from the western rivers
E. Shortage of waters by India on the western rivers
F. Neutral expert
G. Court of arbitration
H. Transitional arrangements
Salient Features:
Article II: All water of the eastern rivers (Ravi, Sutlaj and Beas) shall be available for the unrestricted use of India. Pakistan shall be under obligation to let flow all water of the eastern rivers, and shall not permit any interference with the water of these rivers except for domestic use and non-consumptive use i.e. navigation, floating of timber or other property, flood protection or flood control, fishing or fish culture, wildlife.
Article III, Annex D: all water of western rivers (Indus, Jhelum and Chenab) shall be available for unrestricted use of Pakistan. India shall be under obligation to let flow all the water of western rivers, and shall not permit any interference with the water of these rivers except for domestic use and non-consumptive use, limited agriculture use and limited utilization for generation of hydro-electric power.
Article III: India shall nor store any water or of, construct any storage works on the western rivers except as provided in annexes D and E of the treaty.
Article IV: India shall not increase the catchments area, beyond the area on the effective data of any natural or artificial drainage or drain which crossed into Pakistan, and shall not undertake such construction or remodeling of any drainage or drain whose crossing might use material damage in Pakistan or entail the construction of a new drain or enlargement of an existing drainage or drain in Pakistan.

iii. Facts About Baglihar Dam Project:
Baglihar Dam Project is located at Chanderkot in Ramban, Southern Doda District of Indian held Kashmir about 160 KM north of Jammu on the river Chenab, a 964 KM long western river with its origin in Indian state of Hamachil Paradesh and a course of 144 Kms, runs through India before flowing into Indian occupies Kashmir and then enters Pakistan. Indian government has selected 8 places where after building dams, 5320 MW electricity can be produced and Baglihar Dam Project is one of those 8 projects undertaken by the Indian government. The one billion dollars dam and hydroelectric power plant over Chenab is a clear violation of the 1960 Indus Basin Water Treaty, a clear breach of international law.
Baglihar Dam is 470 feet in height (higher than Tarbela) 317 metres in length, possessing a storage capacity of 15 billion cusecs of water, by all means an ambitious project. The project breaks down into two phases and each phase is designed to produce 450 MW power. The first phase is likely to be completed before the end of 2005, whereas the second phase in 2006. The first survey to produce hydroelectricity in the Indian held Kashmir was carried out in 1960 with the cooperation of Geological survey of India. In 1972, another survey for the site of the dam and its house area was done by the Survey of India. In this survey, the place of Baglihar was selected for the project. In 1987, this project was handed over to National Hydroelectric Power Cooperation (NPHC) which re-examined expenditure on the dam. In the year 1999, contract of the project was given to a German firm Lahmaya International and work on the project thus started. Contract signed with Jammu And Kashmir State Power Development Corporation foresees design review of civil and hydro mechanical and electromechanical works and site supervision during construction and erection.
According to the technical experts, design of the Baglihar Dam violates the terms of Indus Water Treaty, as it will increase Indus shortage capacity, which can cause acute shortage of irrigation water in Pakistan. Several studies conducted by different independent agencies have also confirmed that the Dam, if constructed, would adversely affect the irrigation system in Pakistan, which is dependent on the Chenab River. Some experts also believe that construction of the Dam may result in submerging the entire Doda district in occupied Kashmir.

iv. Bilateral Negotiations:
As early as 1992, when the Indian government started planning to construct Baglihar Dam on the Chenab River, it first came to the notice of Pakistan. Islamabad claims that since then it has been raising concerns that Pakistan government should have been consulted before undertaking any projects likely to prejudice her vital interest, were put in operation in India. Government of Indiaís reply was that the Baglihar Dam was only a project on paper at preliminary stage and that Pakistanís apprehension was purely hypothetical. This however failed to allay Pakistanís apprehensions. India started construction of the Dam in May 1999. After some correspondence, Pakistan suggested that both the countries might approach the World Bank for advisory and technical expertise. India rejected this suggestion expressing the view that bilateral negotiation would be adequate. Pakistan also saw no objection to this. Since then several rounds of talks have been taken place mostly at the secretariesí level.

v. Pakistanís Stance On Baglihar Dam:
Pakistan has the following reservations regarding the construction of the Baglihar Dam:
1. Pakistan believes that 450 MW Baglihar Dam Project would divert up to 1000 cubic feet per second of water destined for Pakistan, whereas, according to the Indus Water Treaty. New Delhi is allowed to build a reservoir on the Chenab River only if it does not interrupt the flow of water.
2. Design of the hydropower project violates the terms of the Indus Water Treaty as the submerged gate spillways and other structures will Indiaís storage capacity far beyond what is allowed under the agreement.
3. The huge pond facility of the Dam would also slow down the flow of water to Pakistan.
4. Islamabad argued that India had violated Article I of the Indus Water Treaty, which prohibits both parties from undertaking any man-made obstruction that may cause change in the volume of the daily flow of water.
5. India is only allowed to construct a small run-off water plant with a maximum discharge of 300 cusecs through the turbines.
6. Baglihar Dam project violates the criteria laid down in annex A.
7. The Dam would increase Indiaís storage capacity to 164,000 acre feet, which is much higher than agreed capacity under the treaty.
8. Baglihar Damís planned height is 144.5 metres, which would interfere with the flow of water into Pakistan. The Damís bondage capacity, 37.722 million cubic metres of water is then twice the allowed bondage under the Indus Water Treaty.
9. Pakistan argued that India wants to release water from the barrage to Pakistan only in winter while Pakistan wants day-to-day water release, which is its right under the Indus Water Treaty. Pakistan claims that it also retains the right not to allow any construction that can control its water release.
10. Baglihar Dam Project does not incorporate features to store water or to raise levels artificially. One such feature is that the top of the concrete dam is 4.5 metres above the highest water level in the lake, which according to Pakistani engineers, is excessive. Extra height seems to be redundant as far as operation of the dam designed at present is concerned.

vi. The Indian Stance:
1. The hydroelectric projects in Jammu and Kashmir fulfill the requirements of the IBRD brokered Indus Water Treaty.
2. Baglihar Dam project is the only project in Kashmir where the Kashmiri people can get cheap electricity at the rate of Rs. 3.67 per unit.
3. Indian stance is that if she accepted Pakistanís demand of reduction in the height of the dam then the dam would be reduced to the capacity of generating 50 MW electricity.
4. Baglihar Dam does not violate the Indus Water Treaty and India would not use this against Pakistan at any cost, therefore, construction of the dam would not be stopped.
5. Technical deliberation to resolve differences should continue and reference to the World Bank was not justified.
6. Since India has already paid 62,060,000 pounds to the World Bank for compensation to Pakistan under the clause of Article V, therefore, the said Article is no more valid.
7. The project is strictly within the parameters of the Treaty, and the dam will not be used to store water or disrupt flows.

vii. Breach Of Internatonal Law:
The power needs of the India held Kashmir are a reality. Let us now assume that the dam is inevitable for the Indians for the sole purpose of the power generation. Let us also assume that the storage of water and the building of gated spillways is a must for the generation of power from Baglihar dam. Hence, let us analyze how the power need of Kashmiris could have been realized without breaking the international law.
1. There are a number of ways that the world has learnt to generate electricity to meet its ever-increasing needs. These options include nuclear, wind and thermal power etc. they all have their individual problems, however, discussing those would amount to ignoring the broader picture. Power production in the world is subject to the law of physics. Hence, you can create power when you follow the law in letter in spirit. If a nation is law-abiding and believes international law is as worthy of respect and as unbendable as the law of physics then the nation looks at other options. Options that might be more expensive or technically more difficult but options that would preserve international law.
2. If the only purpose of constructing the dam was the provision of the energy to the Kashmiri people, the India could have used these options at higher expense. This would have highlighted the importance the Indians have given to the current peace process and would have dispelled the impression that India is using the current atmosphere of peace to consolidate its hold on the state of Kashmir.
3. Let us assume that the expenses involve in pursuing another options were prohibitive. In that case, India could have created a power project, be it hydroelectric or otherwise, somewhere else in northwester states and transmitted power to Kashmir from these areas. That is. If India was indeed serious in pursuing peace with Pakistan.
Therefore Baglihar Dam would have been justified if:
1. Hydroelectric power was the only mode of generation of power in the world.
2. If the Chenab was the only river in Northwestern India, which could be used for the construction of a hydroelectric power project.
3. The spillways had not been gated and a dam had not been acquired to build the head of water.
These are the demands of the international law. If India aspires to be a regional power, if it aspires for a permanent veto in the Security Council then it should be follow the international law in letter and spirit.

viii. Implications For Pakistan:
1. The structure would provide India the capability to manipulate the flow of water to Pakistanís disadvantage. With its increased storage capacity, if maloperated, the project can lead to serious fluctuation in the supplies reaching Marala. It can deprive Pakistan of water up to 7000 cusecs per day.
2. It possesses a serious threat to Pakistan if India decides to withhold water over an extended period especially during the dry season and discharge water during Monsoon season.
3. The dam can multiply and magnify the rising of floods and droughts in Pakistan.
4. Construction of Baglihar dam will deprive Pakistan of 321,000 acre-feet of water during the three months of Rabi season.
5. 450 KM dam would cause serious setback to wheat production in Punjab, the biggest wheat producing province of Pakistan.
6. The project can lead to acute water shortage in Pakistan due to suspension of supplies for up to 28 consecutive days during certain months.
7. The project can also arm India with the potential to use water as a weapon against Pakistan in violation of international laws.
8. According to the technical and legal experts, design of the hydropower project violated the terms of the 1960 Indus water Treaty as the submerged gated spillways and other structures will increase Indiaís storage capacity far beyond what is allowed under the agreement.
9. Due to the construction of the dam, discharge of silt will also increase.
10. The gated spillways provided for Baglihar Dam will give India the capability to manipulate the flow of water to Pakistanís disadvantage. Present structure of the dam will allow India to increase its storage capacity and reduce Chenab waters coming to Pakistan by 7000 to 8000 cusecs per day.

ix. World Bankís Decision:
Pakistan has reasons to believe that the World Bank expertís landmark decision has vindicated its position on the Baglihar dam, Indiaís own victory claim notwithstanding. Calling the verdict a ďgreat victoryĒ, Water and Power Minister Liaquat Ali Jatoi said that India now had a ďmoral, legal and political obligationĒ to accept and implement the expertís judgment. By accepting three of Pakistanís four objections to the dam built by India on the Chenab in occupied Kashmir, the World Bank expertís decision holds New Delhi responsible for violating the 1960 Indus water treaty, because the Indian design of the dam was incorrect. The expert did not uphold Pakistanís argument with regard to the spillway, but Mr Jatoi said Islamabad reserved its right to appeal against this part of the verdict. Now India must abide by the judgment and reduce the damís height by 1.5 metres. This will mean additional problems for India when it goes about reducing the damís height and undertakes new construction.
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Black Magic in Baghliar Dam on River Chenab to Result in Black Water.
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Thanks for the useful sharing! Can you bring out some pictures as well?
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