It is necessary for India and Pakistan to take steps by virtue of which both will get maximum paybacks and should project future trends as far as water consumption is concerned in order to avoid other future conflicts relating to water use
Rao Farman Ali
Since human societies cannot thrive in isolation of ecological conditions. A changing climate that significantly amends these conditions is expected to have an impact on human life and society. Accepting that the convolution of relations between climate stress factors, their human and societal collisions and reactions are crucial to assess the inference for security and conflict, it is now clear that human activities have begun to affect the hydrology of earth. Our presence and our actions and consequences have distorted the very composition of the atmosphere in which precipitation forms and from which rain falls. Human activities are affecting rain and snowfall patterns. How much water flows in rivers, and whether the rivers even make it to the sea is a question?
The serious state of the global freshwater availability surfaced apparent in the 1990s. There has been much debate in academic circles and the popular media, whether global supply pressures will reach a tipping point that will result in a greater number of wars being fought over regional water security. It has become conventional wisdom in policy circles that the prospect of war over water remains distinctly less likely than it might be for other resources such as oil.
World over, 900 million people do not have ready access to safe drinking water. About one in ten- lack access to safe water, 2.4 billion people don’t have admittance to a toilet, similarly, average water consumption around the world is about 53 litres per head per day. In the situation of ‘water stress’ by the year 2000 A.D, humans had constructed some 45,000 large dams that in combination with the hundreds of thousands of smaller structures, quadrupled water storage for human purposes in only 40 years to meet out water demand. Depending upon the time of the year, three to six times the water that exists at any given time in all the world’s rivers is now stored behind giant dams. For all intents and purposes, the magnitude of the global freshwater crisis and the risks associated with it has been greatly underestimated. Water is critical to the attainment of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals whose targets expired in 2015; posing a potential challenge to comity of nations.
Conflicts in twenty-first century also involve tension over water privatisation and the uncharacterised and unresolved water rights of indigenous peoples. Emerging conflicts at the nexus of water and energy as is presently happening in association with oil sands development and unconventional oil and gas activities are on the rise.
Yes, the undeniable seriousness of the global water situation was first brought to the attention of the international community at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janiero, which came to be known as the Rio Earth Summit. In response to the Rio Summit, the United Nations General Assembly designated the 22nd of March, 1993 as the first World Water Day. International World Water Day has been held annually thereafter, as a means of focusing attention on the importance of fresh water and advocating for the sustainable management of freshwater resources. The celebration of an annual World Water Day was followed by the proclamation of the International Year of Fresh Water in 2003; and the declaration in 2005 of the United Nations International Decade of Action ‘Water for Life’, which set clear goals with respect to water supply and sanitation globally in tandem with those of the Millennium Development Goals. Importantly, the Paris Agreement 2015—is an agreement within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) termed as “COP21”, dealing with greenhouse gas emissions mitigation, adaptation and finance starting in the year 2020. The language of the agreement was negotiated by representatives of 196 parties at the 21st Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC in Paris and adopted by consensus on 12 December 2015. As of November 2017, 195 UNFCCC members have signed the agreement, and 170 have become party to it. Later, 12th December 2017, the “One Planet” Summit 2017— a part of Paris Agreement anniversary, brought together the Emmanuel Macron, President of France, the President of the World Bank Group, and the UN Secretary-General, among many other leaders, who undertook bold projects and substantial financial commitments to combat climate change. Earlier, in June 2017, U.S. President Donald Trump announced his intention to withdraw the United States from the agreement, causing widespread condemnation both internationally and domestically.
The “One Planet” Summit focused on practical ways to continue meeting climate goals without the participation of the U.S. government. The main emphasis was private financing for climate initiatives in the United States and elsewhere. A major goal of the Summit was to encourage private investors to fill the annual gap of $210 billion needed to meet the requirements of the Paris Agreement.
Towards that end, the Summit did secure some major commitments. The Gates Foundation, for instance, announced that it would pledge $300 million over the next three years to support farmers in Africa and Asia struggling with the effects of climate change; diminished soil fertility, extreme weather and crop pests, among others.
On the other hand, in India competition for water has a history of provoking conflicts between communities. In Pakistan, water shortages have triggered food and energy crises that ignited riots and protests in some cities. India can store only about 30 days of rainfall, means 200 cubic meters per person, compared to 900 days in major river basins in arid areas of developed countries.
India is expected to have roughly 20 litres available per head per day. There have been extensive droughts lasting a long time and now with global climate change, things will become even more difficult. The glaciers are receding from the Himalayan Mountains. They are about one- fifth of the size they were about 65 years ago.
Every river in India is polluted to some extent. The water quality in underground wells violates the desired levels of dissolved oxygen and coliform, the presence of which is one measure of filth, in addition to having high concentrations of toxic metals, fluoride, and nitrates. India’s rivers also have high fluoride content, beyond the permissible limit. The polluted water then seeps into the groundwater and contaminates agricultural products when used for irrigation. Over 21 percent of transmissible diseases in India are related to unsafe water. Millions of the poorest are affected by preventable diseases caused by inadequate water supply and sanitation. A report published by World Health Organisation on Gender, Climate Change and Health, at least 30 percent of a woman’s daily energy intake is spent fetching water during the dry season in rural India.
In Pakistan, the most troubling, Islamabad’s diversions of water to upstream communities with ties to the government are inflaming religious sectarian loyalties and stoking unrest in the lower downstream region of Sindh.
The water issue also threatens the fragile peace that holds between the nations of India and Pakistan, two nuclear-armed rivals. Water has long been seen as a core strategic interest in the dispute over the Kashmir region, home to the Indus’ headwaters. Since 1960, a delicate political accord called the Indus Waters Treaty has governed the sharing of the river’s resources. But dwindling river flows will be harder to share as the populations in both countries grow and the per-capita water supply plummets.
Some growth models predict that by 2025, India’s population will grow to triple of what it was—and Pakistan’s population to six times of what it was— at the time when the Indus Treaty was signed . Lurking in the background are fears that climate change is speeding up the melting of the glaciers that feed the rivers.
Clean and safe water is an important resource in building healthy and progressive communities. As per 2012 study of UNICEF and World Health Organisation, today, safe water supply evades some 780 million people, or approximately 11 percent of the world’s population. Equally, study of WHO, 2012 ascribes, from an overall perspective, that this is a marked improvement from 1990, where almost one-quarter of the global population did not have access to clean and safe water. However, these improvements were mostly made in East and South Asia. Countries in the sub-Saharan Africa and Pacific regions still lack adequate access, with each region registering water supply coverage of 61% and 54% respectively. It is no coincidence that cholera, a disease that thrives where there are deficits in water and sanitation, is prevalent in both these regions. As efforts continue to connect the growing global population to safe water supply, considerations need to be afforded to demographic, economic and social pressures. These pressures not only affect access, but also the quantity and quality of water supplies. Mounting pressures could cause increases in a country’s virtual water need, that is, the water used to produce goods and services. Higher consumption of virtual water not only affects the sustainability of access of communities already linked to water supplies, but also the availability of water to communities that have not gained access to water as resources are diverted to meet other existing demands. Fundamentally, water resources worldwide are under increasing pressure through a combination of factors that include population growth, pollution, and the consequences of climate change.
As per 2011 study of Edwards, widening and enhancing access to clean and safe water, nine percent of the global burden of disease can be alleviated and 3.5 million deaths can be prevented annually and the socio-economic impacts from the prevention of water-related deaths and diseases are tremendous; for each US $1 invested in improving access to water, communities reap benefits in productive time and avoidance of treatment costs worth between US $2-$12.
In some regions of the world, acute stresses could be magnified or become the norm, and many, in academic, political or media circles, predict that this will inevitably lead to violent conflicts. Scientific reviews of past conflicts reveal that very few inter-state conflicts have had water resources as a root cause. However, water-related conflicts and violent conflicts at the local level have been reported. Although history can prove to be a poor predictor of what may happen in the future under the combined effects of population growth and climate change effects, consideration needs to be given to the fact that the rarefaction of resources could lead to further cooperation as opposed to major conflicts. Institutions need to be strengthened at the international and national levels to ensure that this can take place.
As a workaround solution to fulfil domestic demand for food, China has begun to establish farms in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Kenya, Russia and Zimbabwe. China’s virtual water consumption has clearly grown, but the burden of meeting this demand has been cleverly shifted to other countries.
Rivers, lakes, and aquifers are vulnerable to pollutants, which intensify the occurrence of water-related diseases by impairing water use, and introduce new health risks associated with the presence of pollutants in the human body. Pollutants can be broadly categorised as human-induced, or naturally occurring. Human-induced pollutants enter waterways through unmitigated discharge of untreated or insufficiently treated domestic and industrial wastewater (point sources), and agricultural run-off (non-point source). Pollutants that occur naturally, also termed geogenic pollutants, are usually found in groundwater. The concentration of geogenic pollutants in groundwater resources may be aggravated by human activities that infiltrate or fracture the surrounding rock or substrata.
Domestic wastewater comprises dissolved and suspended impurities from households. Untreated or insufficiently treated wastewater is typically contaminated with human excreta, which can cause traditional health risks. In recent years, domestic wastewater has been observed to contain trace quantities of pharmaceutical and narcotics, which would present health risks over prolonged exposure. However, in studies of WHO 2011, which were conducted in Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, scientists assure that such risks are highly unlikely as the level of contaminants do not approach significant levels.
Pollutants found in industrial wastewater can be broadly classified into three categories; chemicals and heavy metals, organic matter, and fouling substances such as oils. The release of these pollutants into waterways varies by industry, which runs the gamut from mining and manufacturing to power generation. In most countries, there exist standards guiding the treatment of wastewater for release into waterways; however, these standards may not always be observed or implemented. Thus, water sources that receive industrial effluents may become tainted, and present health risks when used for drinking water or irrigation .
Water is one of the most important resources which India and Pakistan rely upon in achieving economic development. This is because both countries rely on agrarian economies which form a large proportion of their GDPs. For these two countries to achieve greater economic prosperity, they should cooperate in implementing moves aimed at conserving the water resource. Since these rivers flow between Pakistan and India, it is necessary for both countries to implement simultaneous actions aimed at conserving water and using it effectively to meet the needs of each country. However, there is suspicion and hostility between these countries, and they have not been able to develop uniform policies aimed at achieving water conservation. As a result, there is a lot of water wastage which increases costs to the government and decreases water available for agricultural activities. This has a negative impact on both the economies of Pakistan and India.
India is in acute water crisis and millions of Indians currently lack access to clean drinking water. The situation is worsening day by day. India’s demand for water is growing at an alarming rate. India currently has the world’s second largest population, which is expected to overtake China’s by 2050 when it reaches a staggering 1.6 billion, putting increasing strain on water resources as the number of people grows. Since Independence of India, its primary goals have been economic growth and food security, completely disregarding water conservation. This has caused serious ramifications being felt today, as many citizens still operate under these principles. Unlike many other developing countries, especially those with acute water scarcity issues such as China, Indian law has virtually no legislation on groundwater. Anyone can extract water; homeowner, farmer or industry as long as the water lies underneath their plot of land. The needs of India are unique. Nowhere else in the world does population growth and poverty play such a large role in affecting water resource issues; this reflects the importance of providing for basic human needs to ensure that the livelihoods of all can be improved. In the case of rural India, poverty and reduced access to safe water resources has limited the ability of the poor to improve their situation, which has only served to perpetuate the poverty cycle especially among rural populations and women. A rapidly growing economy and a large agricultural sector stretch India’s supply of water even thinner. Meanwhile, India’s supply of water is rapidly dwindling due primarily to mismanagement of water resources, although over-pumping and pollution are also significant contributors. Climate change is expected to exacerbate the problem by causing erratic and unpredictable weather, which could drastically diminish the supply of water coming from rainfall and glaciers. As demand for drinkable water starts to outstrip supply by increasing amounts in coming years, India will face a slew of subsequent problems, such as food shortages, intrastate, and international conflicts. India’s water crisis is predominantly a manmade problem. India’s climate is not particularly dry, nor is it lacking in rivers and groundwater. Extremely poor management, unclear laws, government corruption or chronically bad governance, and industrial and human waste have caused this water supply crunch and rendered what water is available practically useless due to the huge quantity of pollution. In managing water resources, the Indian government must balance competing demands between urban and rural, rich and poor, the economy and the environment.
Citing as example, in Varanasi, a suburban middle-sized city in India, treated and untreated wastewater is used to irrigate crops. Over the long term, heavy metal pollutants (cadmium, copper, lead, zinc, nickel and chromium) from the wastewater have leached into the soil, and can be detected in significant amounts in the vegetables grown in these farms.
While concentrations vary depending on the type of vegetables grown and the part of the vegetable that was sampled, some of the detected amounts greatly exceed allowable limits, rendering these vegetables unsafe for consumption.
On the other hand, Pakistan is one of the most water-stressed countries in the world, not far from being classified as water scarce and faces an existential threat- one that could potentially hobble its already modest economic growth, although, for the time being, China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC)—a part of Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to establish One Belt One Road(OBOR)—a new game changer, will act as a boon to relieve from the distress of ‘economic – slump- down’. Equally, Moscow is trying hard to persuade New Delhi for joining OBOR, purposely to decrease US influence in South Asia. Although, New Delhi expresses some concerns over CPEC. Unfortunately India has rejected cooperation for the competition with Pakistan, despite the regional leadership role as a powerful country. On 29th October 2017 India exported first shipment of wheat to Kabul, terming it as a landmark moment to pave the way for operationalisation of the Chabahar port. Yes, this too is an alternative, reliable and robust connectivity for Afghanistan. No matter, Chahbar port and CPEC will open up new opportunities for trade and transit both to India and Pakistan but terribly lack convergent points. Surely, the Chahbar port was made functional, just after the U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson first visited Afghanistan on 23rd October 2017 and on 24th of October 2017 he visited to Islamabad and then to New Delhi. For all intents and purposes, Chinese clout in the Asia-Pacific region rises. So, United States is wooing India into a closer embrace and wants to check China. In this situation, one has to see, whether, BRI of China is purely economic or mainly meant for the security benefits. However, on 12th March 2018, Iran created ripples in India’s diplomatic circles, when Iranian Foreign Minister JavadZarif at Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) invited Pakistan and China to participate in its strategic Chabahar port. Pertinently, in 2016, India, Iran and Afghanistan signed a trilateral agreement to jointly develop the Chabahar port in order to open a new tactical transit route.
Historically, some huge water conflicts around 181 are reported to have occurred between 3000 B.C to 2007A.D, essentially, some 146 of these conflicts took place in the 5,000 years between 3000 B.C. and the year 2000 A.D and 35 water conflicts took place in just 17 years of this century. During that same brief period, new forms of actual and potential conflicts over water emerged. These include homegrown militant threats to water infrastructure in Afghanistan, Iraq, and a threat issued by Al-Qaida in 2003 against domestic water supply systems in the United States. New Delhi’s concern towards the fact that if China diverts Brahmaputra river, what could be the water position of eastern India; likewise, one small attack on Tulbul navigation project or Wular barrage in Kashmir by militants on April 2012 constitute examples of the trend. Basically, Kashmiris feel that they are getting nothing out of the projects, except a plan to serve others, however, inaction of the naïve Kashmiris should never be construed that common stock of people are not concerned with Asia’s biggest freshwater lake. Of course, they are!
Although, the Jammu and Kashmir government started implementing the project somewhere around 1984, apparently without taking Pakistan into confidence. When Pakistan came to know about the construction at Ningli, on the mouth of Wular Lake, it raised objections. Later, Pakistan’s water experts visited the site and engineers did whatever they could to conceal the happenings from the visiting officials from Islamabad and in 1987, Jammu and Kashmir was asked to stop executing the project but the government did not discard the project. After the rise of militancy in 1989-90, some unknown people took away everything including the steel that was lying around the site.
Mountain glaciers in Jammu and Kashmir on either side of LoC, numbering approximately 3136 out of 15000 in Himalayan belt, primarily Siachin, play a central role in regulating the river’s flows of Indus stream, no matter, glaciers are acting as a natural water storage tanks that freezes precipitation in winter and releases it as melt-water in the summer, but the temperature in glacier areas has risen to 1.4ºC and the glacial ice is melting fast and has posed a chronic threat to the human existence besides environmental changes too. The Indus is dependent on glacial melting for as much as half of its flow. So its fate is uniquely tied to the health of the Himalayas. In the short term, higher glacial melt is expected to bring more intense flooding, like 4-7 September 2014—the devastating deluge. Since, Jhelum being the lifeline of Kashmir, its water carrying capacity around 62,000 to 65,000 cusecs (1962) has drastically gone down around 27,000 to 32,000 cusecs, besides lowering of water table, including high-speed vanishing phenomenon of receiving water bowls and distributaries, whose results will have the far reaching consequences in the coming years and might invite afresh conflict with its inward and outward perceptions.
Many Pakistanis are worried that, being in control o f upstream waters which are situated in Indian administered Jammu and Kashmir, India can easily run Pakistan dry either by diverting the flow of water by building storage dams or using up all the water through hydroelectric power schemes, but, out of these hydel projects people of Jammu and Kashmir are getting nothing, except short- term clerical jobs to a few. Thus as long as Kashmir is with India, fear will continue to exist among the policymakers of Pakistan that their country will be devoid of waters and have no exception but to support Kashmir resistance.
At the same time, nearly 30 percent of the world’s cotton supply comes from India and Pakistan, much of that from the Indus River Valley. On average, about 737 billion gallons are withdrawn from the Indus River annually to grow cotton—enough to provide Delhi residents with household water for more than two years, admitted that the water economy of Pakistan depends fundamentally on a gigantic and complex hydraulic infrastructure system. There are now a set of related challenges which have to be addressed – how to maintain what has been built, what major new system-wide infrastructure needs to be built, what infrastructure needs to be built for populations who have not been served and for environmental protection, and how to build institutions that will manage the resource effectively in the looming era of scarcity. First is rehabilitation and maintenance. Many elements of the vast hydraulic system are now reaching the end of their design lives, and have to be rebuilt. There is an enormous backlog of deferred maintenance. Most recent irrigation and water supply “investments” from donors, including the World Bank, have been for the rehabilitation of poorly maintained systems. There is no Systematic Asset Management Plan(SAMP) at either the Federal or Provincial level which describes the condition of the assets, the requirements for replacement, rehabilitation (or retirement) and operations and maintenance and the associated costs, and the proposals for financing of these costs. Further, the agrarian economy of Pakistan accounts for about 25percent of GDP and employs about half of the labour force. While the transition to an urban and industrial economy can and must continue, agriculture will remain central for the well-being of large numbers of people. Better water management is a key constraint to improving agricultural productivity and generating jobs.
Tragically, water flow to all the rivers in Jammu and Kashmir is decreasing. The perpetual snow line in Jammu and Kashmir reached to 16,000 feet from 13,000 feet in the last several decades, which is happening at an alarming rate, although combination of factors are responsible, like, global warming, shrinking forest cover and increasing human interference and fast melting of glacial ice. If the water flow keeps receding at this rate, people won’t get water for even drinking.
However, as per Lawrence, settlement commissioner of Jammu and Kashmir, in British period of last decade of nineteenth century, agriculture land of the country at that time which was under the agricultural activities stood at 1,195,555 acres.
Further, according to the records of 1992, the total area of Jammu and Kashmir under all sectors of agriculture was 24.15 lac hectares, out of which, 138,6867 hectares were rural and 10.28 lac hectares were urban, although, only 3.3percent of total geographical area of the State is under Agricultural cultivation. It is to be noted that the statistics is available for only 8.26 lac hectares. The rest of the area is under mountains and forests. Still in Jammu and Kashmir directly or indirectly more than 70 percent of the population depends on the agriculture but the proportion of labour force engaged in agriculture has declined from 85percent in 1961, to 28 percent by 2016. Jammu and Kashmir imports about 40 percent of food grains and 20 percent of vegetables to meet its requirements. In 2000, 38 percent of land area was agricultural land but only 11 percent was used for crops.
In 2012, according to official data of department of agriculture, government of Jammu and Kashmir, the total area under paddy cultivation in Kashmir division was 1,58,000 hectares which has shrunk to all-time low of 1,42,000 hectares in 2017. In four to five years, agro-holdings are lost and double the agriculture land lost in three decades,” the data reveals, and the total area under paddy cultivation has reduced by 3,40,000 kanals.
While the official figures present this gloomy picture, experts predict that by the end of this century, Kashmir will face severe food-deficit and its dependence on imports will increase by over 34 percent to current rate. Since 1972, the area under paddy cultivation has shrunk by over 20 lac kanals which is a concern of great worry.
In Jammu and Kashmir in 1981, the total area under paddy cultivation in the valley was at record 1, 66,000 hectares and the same decreased to 1, 58,000 hectares in 2012 shrinking the fertile land by 8000 hectares in three decades. Going by the figures, it doesn’t look much of a decrease but what came after 2012 has disrupted all calculations, during the last four years the valley has lost 16,650 hectares of paddy land reducing the current area under rice cultivation to 141,350 hectares. Official figures reveal that the arable land in Jammu and Kashmir has shrunk from 0.14 hectares per-person in 1981 to 0.08 hectares per-person in 2001 and further to 0.06 hectares per-person in 2012, but still Agriculture adds 21,000 Crore annually to the State’s economy out of which 8000 Crore is contributed by Horticulture.
With current rate (5,550 hectares per year), is set to lose all of its paddy land in next 22 years and by 2030 Jammu and Kashmir, especially valleys of Kashmir, Chenab, Pirpanchal, Kargil and Leh will be having acute shortage of food grains, essentially at that time requirement shall be 1.82 million tons of food grains and in 2040, the Kashmir valley will be bereft of any agricultural land to cultivate rice and one could possibly see concrete jungle trespassed by orchards, yes, the major conversion of paddy land has been due to economic reasons and if the trend continues—coupled with the climatic change—we will be 83 percent dependent on imports for meeting our food requirements by the end of this century.
The Jammu and Kashmir under the Land Acquisition Act 1894, Jammu Kashmir Land Revenue Act 1996, actually came into force in 1939, Jammu and Kashmir Agrarian Reforms Act 1976, Jammu and Kashmir Prohibition on Conversion of Land and Alienation of Orchards Act 1975 are some of the laws already in place to check blatant conversion of agricultural land for non-agriculture purposes. However, despite the strong legislations, illegal conversion of agricultural land is going on unabated, mainly due to non-existence of a comprehensive housing policy.
Although, in 2011, under the chairmanship of horticulture ministry a committee was set up by the government for preservation of the agricultural land and unfortunately the committee failed to reach at any conclusion and due to political incongruity the proposed legislation was stopped.
In 2012, the high court of Jammu and Kashmir passed directions to all the deputy commissioners with an aim to ensure the implementation of the provisions of agricultural act and land revenue act to stop the conversion of agricultural land on the respective jurisdictions of the state monitored by commissioners. At the end of the day, nothing was seen on ground for the appreciation.
Worth to mention that on 4th March 2018, in Srinagar at Jammu and Kashmir State Judicial Academy, the Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court, BadarDurrez Ahmad called upon the Judges to pass prompt orders in accordance with the law in the cases pertaining to encroachment of wetlands and river systems, during a one-day sensitisation programme on “Forest and Wildlife Conservation”.
Ironically, still, the Jammu and Kashmir government continues to make tall claims to protect the agriculture and forest land from further shrinking, the State has already lost 875.665 hectares of forest and agricultural rich land.
Equally, Directorate of Environment, Ecology and Remote Sensing Jammu and Kashmir, in its report titled “A Satellite Based Rapid Assessment on Floods in Jammu & Kashmir-September, 2014,” reveals that more than 50 percent of water bodies in and around Srinagar have disappeared during the past century, there is siltation of lakes due to massive erosion in the catchment area and which turn these into land masses. In 1911, the total extent of water bodies with marshy areas was 356.85 km. However, it has reduced to 158.54 km in 2011 and world famous Dal Lake in Srinagar, has reduced in size from 2,547 hectares in 1971 to 1,620 hectares in 2008. Rapidly disappearing of water bodies and wetlands is the major concern in the State. If, this phenomenon continues, Jammu and Kashmir will be rendered almost drought hit in terms of agriculture.
Most of the agriculture land has come under unregulated and illegal residential and commercial constructions, owing to the unholy politico- bureaucratic nexus with land mafia. Besides, ill planned road construction and other projects. Official data of Agriculture department 2012 reveals that under the New Delhi’s flagship Programme, Prime Minister’s Gram SadakYojina (PMGSY), the State has lost 875.665 hectares of forest land and experts fear if the constructions continue at the same pace, it will pose a serious threat to the forests, commonly known as green gold of Kashmir. 875.6647 hectares of forest land has been used for road construction only under PMGSY till date for which the government had incurred an expenditure of over INR 2.70 billion. In addition the Banihal-Baramullah rail link, construction of four-lane road of national highway project NH1A [NH44] two-lane road of national highway NA 404 in South Kashmir or national highway 1B or circular roads in north and central Kashmir, also in Ladakh region or Jammu province, whose records are not clearly defined are the factors responsible for the loss of agriculture land in Jammu and Kashmir.
Similarly, an acute shortage of drinking water in Jammu region, especially, southern parts of province, has led to sporadic demonstrations by protesters during the past few summers, whose frequency is increasing day in and day out.
Although, Jammu and Kashmir State Water Resources Regulatory Authority 2014 which started to conceive from 12th of May 2010 and Vide Notification No: 16/JKSWRRA/2014 dated 12.06.2014 was fully established, now, commonly called as Jammu and Kashmir Water Resources (Regulation & Management) Act 2010 (Act No XXI of 2010), which unfortunately is acting just as licensing authority and the activity to set the standards has still been out of its ambit.
In June 2016, Jammu and Kashmir government claimed that 15,798 rural habitations, out of which 8,535 habitations (54 percent) possess the access to proper drinking water, still more than 40 percent of the rural habitations in Jammu and Kashmir do not have access to proper drinking water facilities but in urban areas it is satisfactory in quantity, but, quality wise it is sub-standard.
Mid of February 2018, Jammu and Kashmir government hired a consultant to calculate the losses suffered by the State on account of Indus Water Treaty (IWT). The Power Development Corporation (PDC) awarded the contract to Danish Hydraulic Institute (DHI) India to complete work in 44 weeks against INR 1.89 Crore contract. Roughly, the State suffers more than INR 20,000 Crore losses due to the Treaty. IWT puts several conditions on exploitation of water from rivers flowing to Pakistan. Already, in 2013 the State government had shortlisted M/S Halcrow Consulting India Ltd, a part of M/S Halcrow group of UK, for the job of assessing the losses. However, the Government sat over the decision to hire the consultant for more than a year following which the firm backed out. The DHI was the lone bidder which showed willingness to take up the contract in 2015. Notably, in 1998, a high powered Committee comprising Secretary Power and Secretary Water Resources also quantified the losses incurred by Jammu and Kashmir in lieu of IWT.
Similarly, Azad Kashmir is fully dependent upon Pakistan for military and economic survival, but strategically important, because, it irrigates the west Punjab by rivers which run through it and by vast projects like Mangla Dam, which were over the years to come to be situated on its soil. The area under cultivation in Azad Kashmir is around 1, 66,432 hectares (almost 13 percent of the total area). Now, the reduced agriculture productivity has adversely affected the traditional lifestyle and average per capita income of the rural household. Although, about 42 percent of the total geographical area (0.6 million hectares) is controlled by the forest department, further by allowing 614 cusecs of water from Jhelum river for drinking and irrigation purposes in Azad Kashmir ( Mirpuri areas) face strong opposition from Sindh. People of Azad Kashmir feel that Mangla Dam and water reservoirs are exploitative in nature in context with Azad Kashmir. Alike, Gilgit-Baltistan, which has the cropped area of 73902 hectares, but, it is not represented as the part of Indus River System Authority (IRSA), unlike other provinces of Pakistan,
Water conflict between Kashmir by means of ‘Hydro Nationalism’, especially AJK and Pakistan is inevitable. Besides India in immediate future, the prominent voices have started emerging on either side of LoC which demand for maximum authority to people of Jammu and Kashmir and AJK. Some Kashmiri intellectuals have started asking to give participatory role to Kashmiris on either side of LoC and they ask for the amendment under Article XII, (3) and (4). Furthermore, common people, ask to unfold or flatten the crumples about the position of Kashmir vis-à-vis IWT, under Article III clause 2. Paradoxically, under whose control Jammu and Kashmir is?
Equally, people of Jammu and Kashmir on either side of LoC insist for tangible and permanent role in Kashmiri waters and to get incorporated as Indus Water Treaty [IWT] are asking for Indo-Pak Indus commission, whose establishment has been clearly defined under Article VIII, clauses 1-10 of IWT.
On the other hand, in many countries, national security has historically been defined as military security. It is now understood that military might is only one element in the human security equation, and that water can play a determining role in international, national and trans-boundary conflicts. Although real potential exists for conflict over water, water tensions can also offer potential for cooperation between states, so long as the underlying institutions and capacity are in place for such cooperation to happen.
Water security is also the foundation for food and energy security, and also for overall long-term social and economic development. Water underpins health, nutrition, equity, gender equality, well-being and economic progress, especially in developing countries. But equitable water supply and quality problems are also threatening the security of some of the most developed countries in the world.
The contemporary understanding of water security concerns of India and Pakistan, essentially Kashmir, where almost four rivers of Indus Basin flow, also make it clear that broader principles must be incorporated into trans-boundary treaties if such agreements are to remain relevant in changing hydrological scenarios. These principles include: integration of surface and groundwater interactions with land use planning and water management; ecosystem protection; public and private sector involvement; collaborative, multi-level governance; and the need for adaptability and flexibility in the management of shared waters and active participation of people of Jammu and Kashmir on either side of LoC under the purview of the principles that work at the international level and to demonstrate their applicability at the regional and sub-regional levels. Besides, strengthening trust and confidence, which can only emerge through collaboration and public involvement at all levels with mutual water- governance in all regions of Jammu and Kashmir on either side of LoC as a part of Confidence- Building- Measure (CBM).
The main purpose of writing this account is to support academia, students and businessmen, fundamentally, common stock of people who wish to understand the importance of water and rivers with its economic potential.
Moreover, in the winter session of Jammu and Kashmir Legislative Assembly at Jammu, on 30th January 2018, State’s Public Health Engineering [PHE], Irrigation and Flood Control Minister made public in the house that four major rivers, which include Chenab, Indus, Jhelum and Ravi have been declared as “National Waterways” by the [central government] in New Delhi— paving the way for inland navigation on them, purposely to boost water transport and tourism. In this regard, Jammu and Kashmir government examined the feasibility-cum-detailed project report of Inland Waterways Authority of India (IWAI) prepared for inland navigation and construction of horizontal and vertical terminals across these waterways to boost the Inland Water Transport, besides to exploit the tourism potential on the “National Waterways” and to take the project forward. The formulation of Detailed Project Reports [DPRs] of Comprehensive Flood Management Plan of river Jhelum Phase-II worth Rs 1684.60 crore under PMDP has been already entrusted with a time- limit to WAPCOS, an empanelled agency of Ministry of Water Resources[MWRs] Government of India[GoI]. Further to meet future flood challenges in the Jammu region, the Flood Protection to River Chenab project at a cost of Rs 2,314 crore has been conceptualised and the DPR has been submitted to the GoI. Pertinently, PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control departments under the Rs 399.29 crore, the Comprehensive Flood Management Plan[CFMP] for river Jhelum, Phase-I, an amount of Rs 177.20 crore has been utilised against the released amount of Rs 196.12 crore. Additionally, the dispute with the Punjab in connection with the construction of ShahpurKandi Barrage has been res olved and a fresh agreement has been ratified by the government of Jammu and Kashmir with government of Indian Punjab.
The early days of 2018, along with— almost 60-day snowless anesthetised winter period— including 40 days harsh phase of ChillaiKalan[ 21 December-30 January], the sparse precipitation in Kashmir during past nine months( July 2017- March 2018) has led for the first time, the grave ‘diminution’ in water bodies throughout the length and breadth of Valley and whole of the region faced nearly the drought like situation, Kandi[hilly] areas were worst hit. The top official of Public Health Engineering (PHE) in February 2018 has said that 600 lift schemes, besides approximately 1602 schemes supplying drinking water to around 20,000 families in Kashmir division, at least 60 percent have been “worst- hit”. According to PHE, the water sources for these schemes including rivers, nallah, streams were running at the lowest and Kashmir faced a unique situation due to continued dry weather.
Kashmir receives around 210 -220 mm of precipitation during winter season( December- February), but in 2017-2018 it was less, except for 37 mm snowfall on December 10 and 11, 2017, including 11th and 12th February 2018 rains and snow of which Srinagar recorded 16 centimetres [cms], Qazigund 17 cms, Pahalgam 13 cms, Kupwara 6 cms and Kokernag 11 cms of snow, as well, later some other sporadic rather the isolated occur rences of rainfall and snow in 2018 on the upper reaches of Valley, but in general weather has remained dry and warmer, which has worried weathermen. The snowfall during December and January in Kashmir is crucial as it gets stored in frozen form, which is essential for glaciers, later melts during spring to replenish various tributaries and streams, which ultimately charge up the rivers. The new trend has been observed since last three years with a drastic fall in the water levels in rivers including Jhelum, the main source of drinking water and irrigation in Kashmir.
Climate experts believe that the snowless winter and scanty rainfall received during the summers of 2017 are ‘noteworthy’ and have given rise in temperatures, even in winters. This rise in temperature hasn’t allowed western disturbance to settle over Kashmir. Western disturbance is an extra-tropical storm which develops over the Mediterranean Sea and brings rain to north and northwest India and is responsible to precipitation—an average temperature of 6.9°C is normally observed during January in Srinagar—the temperature in 2018 in the same season drifted between 12°C-14°C, which was very much disturbing.
Against an average snowfall of 198.20 mm from December to February the total snowfall received in 2018 is almost 101.07 mm and 98.13 mm lesser and almost 50 percent lower. Similarly, due to lengthy ‘summer dry-spell’ of 2017, the water level in Jhelum, fell to the record low of 0.65 mm in October 2017. In February, 2018, the discharge in Jhelum, which is main source of drinking water and irrigation in Kashmir, has fallen to less than 700 cusecs against average discharge of over 1200 cusecs. Likewise, the harvest of saffron in Kashmir has failed completely in 2017 due to a severe drought in the areas of PamporeKarewa, where saffron is cultivated. Saffron industry in Kashmir is directly supporting around 82,000 souls and is the second largest industry in Kashmir, after horticulture. According to agriculture department[Kashmir division], land for saffron has reduced from 5,700 hectares in the 1990s to 3,715 hectares in 2016,losing 1985 hectares, which is a loss of 34 percent. The per hectare production has decreased to less than 1.88 kilograms compared to around six kilograms in other parts of the world.
In terms of weather, same situation is seen in Jammu province, near LoC and working boundary in Samba, Kathua, Poonch and Rajouri , on one side farmers are disturbed by landmines and LoC firings, which since last few years is a common norm, but drought is another factor responsible for the plight of farmers and has added more miseries.
In view of Pakistan’s economy which is largely driven by agriculture, the shortage of water could have serious ramifications. Pakistan’s storage capacity, ideally recommended to hover around 1,000 days given its climate, stands at a meagre 30-day supply (“Water storage capacity just for 30 days”, 2013). With water availability on the decline and high rates of population growth, Pakistan appears to be destined to make the transition to a water scarce country.
Pakistan’s glaciers are expected to melt by 2035, which will have a disastrous effect on fresh water flows. Being an agro-based economy, Pakistan is extremely vulnerable to climate change as the sector contributes 21% to GDP. The country, like others in the developing world, has had to bear the brunt of climate change despite having a lower carbon footprint. It has the 135th position( which might have improved) in terms of carbon dioxide emissions and ironically, has been ranked 3rd in terms of vulnerability to climate change. This means that extreme weather conditions such as heavy rainfall, intense cyclones and drought could become routine and determine the flow of freshwater into the Indus Delta.
Arguably, the impact of these changes in temperature on the environment may be the most direct but the changing climate could also give birth to several challenging social and political issues for those at the helm of affairs. Decreasing water availability, for instance, could drive up poverty indices as access to safe and adequate quantities of water serves as a precondition for an acceptable standard of development in accordance with the UN Millennium Declaration targets.
Importantly, on 13th January 2018, at UN headquarters, Antonio Guterres, the UN Secretary-General said that the biggest victims of the phenomenon of climate change are the developing countries or G77. Antonio reiterated that the moment when others are failing but the two largest economies of the G77 are strongly committed to the leadership in climate action by referring to China and India.
Moreover, using of fungicides or pesticides by farmers in India and Pakistan; like organophosphates is another dimension and various agro-activists assert that these types of practices prove genocidal for farming community. However, wretchedly the subliminal “advertisement lingo” applied to transport the thinking of innocent farmers to “unreal world”, deliberately to infuse a hope factor for improved livelihood initiated by corporate houses who engaged in the manufacturing of chemicals for agriculturalists. These chemicals, in fact, are very hazardous for naïve people who toil in “farming fields” to earn bread and butter. Activists demand blanket ban on the chemicals used in agricultural activities which are dangerous for humans and pollute water bodies.
In the same way, heavy presence of Indian and Pakistani defence forces on and around the World’s highest glacier, Siachin, has melted down by thirty percent, besides heavy presence of pollutants like , lead, zinc, nickel and chromium etc, in the waters of Nobra and Gayari rivers across Ladakh and Skardu of Jammu and Kashmir will have both short-term and long-term effects on health and agriculture in those areas, which use these waters, essentially, increase in cloudbursts and snow avalanches in Kashmir valley is directly attributed by some proficient environmentalists with direct linkage to Siachin and other glacier- melting in Jammu and Kashmir due to heavy presence of security forces or unwanted road constructions in hilly areas. Citing an example of 21-22 February 1996 killing at least 200 people because of snow avalanches, equally on 19th February 2005 snow tsunami in Kashmir Valley again killed at least 200 people, 164 at a single place in Waltengu Nard of Kund, Kulgam of South Kashmir, cloudburst of 9 August 2010 in Kargil killed more than 254 people, the 4-7 September 2014 floods in Jammu and Kashmir killed 281 people and as per official figures, State incurred a loss of Rs.43959.56 crore, furthermore,280 people were also killed in Pakistan. Furthermore, Siachin being the highest battlefield of the world, where, more than 2000, soldiers of both India and Pakistan got killed, since 1984, not by wars but by the extreme cold weather conditions.
Environmental prognosis subscribe that the next wars will be fought over waters. Increasing competition for dwindling water resources will continue to pose a greater threat to national and international security. Already, conflicts have arisen between a number of South Asian countries and also between neighbouring states within these countries. But, competition for water occurs not only between neighbouring countries or states, but also between different user groups within a given watershed. Already, the urban, agricultural and industrial demands for water are greater than the available supplies, importantly, almost twenty big rivers originate from Himalayan glaciers of South Asia, along with hundreds of water streams, although Asia claims around 126 large rivers to gratify 60 percent of world population in terms of freshwater.
Of course, global strategy makes sense. To avoid future conflicts, world needs to get to the root of the problem, and the goal must be to provide water security for the poor – everywhere. We must extend coverage of potable water and sanitation to all, and concentrate on improving its reliability for all. Even in difficult economic times, we must recognise the high economic, social, environmental, health and political costs of failing to do so.
Increased urban, changing diet habits, fattening of middle class populations, agricultural and industrial water demands, and a growing understanding of nature’s need for water require that we radically reform our attitude toward water and how it is managed globally. Water needs to be on the global political agenda not only in order to feed the projected 9 billion people that will inhabit the earth by 2050 with less agricultural water than is available today, but also in order to address the critical development challenge of doing so in a safe, sustainable way without compromising water resources that are essential to ecosystem services and functions. By addressing critical water issues, world will simultaneously address economic and public health woes while advancing our capacity to adapt to climate change, furthermore, addressing water security issues will create a foundation for peace and well-being.
The India-Pakistan water conflict is an example of conflict arising from struggle from scarce resources. Growing scarcity of water resources, increasing population and poor management of water resource in India and Pakistan has resulted in an increasing demand for water resources. The increasing scarcity of water leads to the desire for control of water resources, which in turn becomes a ground for breeding conflicts and these conflicts, are manifested at interstate and intra-state levels.
The need for water is accentuated by the fact that these countries are mainly agrarian economies. These conflicts have not only hampered their economic development at the national level, but the region, as a whole, is not fully benefiting from the process of globalisation. However, the scarcity of water resources in some cases has been instrumental in developing cooperation among states. The Indus Waters Treaty between India and Pakistan is one of the few examples, of the settlement of a major, international river basin conflict. However, the grievances of contracting parties, lead to the possibility that the present cooperation may turn into a future conflict. No matter, the Indus Treaty between the two countries created an understanding of how water between the two countries would be shared. Six rivers that is; the Chenab, Indus, Beas, Sutlej, Ravi and Jhelum flow to Pakistan from India. This treaty divided three rivers for use by each country, and India had the Beas, Sutlej and Ravi. Pakistan had access to the Jhelum, Chenab and Indus. During the 1990s, India constructed a hydro-electric plant in Doda district along Chenab River. This river is one of the tributaries of the Indus River and was designated by the Indus Treaty for use by Pakistan. The Pakistani government, political and religious leaders saw this as a move by India to control these waters. This was seen to be in breach of the Indus Treaty by Pakistan, essentially, a threat to the Pakistani economy. There were several ways in which the Pakistani economy could be affected. These include reduction of water capacity for Pakistani peoples, which could affect agricultural and animal rearing activities. India also had political superiority by having the ability to flood Pakistan during war times through releasing excess water.
The dispute between Pakistan and India over water has continued over several decades. Currently, the dispute revolves around the construction of a hydro-electric plant along a tributary of Indus, which is Kishenganga River. Although India is defending its right to construct The Dam, Pakistan is raising several issues over the project. Pakistan explains that India is planning to divert the river course and this is bound to have adverse effects on Pakistani who rely on the river. Pakistani officials explain that this would reduce the capacity of the river by more than 30% during winter as a result. Islamabad feels that when this happens, the Pakistani plans to construct their own dam will be adversely affected. However, the dispute is about to be solved through arbitration, as both parties are hopeful to see this mechanism work.
The water capacity in Pakistan has been declining over the years and it poses a threat to the survival of its population within the next decade. Pakistan had water crisis during 2009 due to the reduction of its water capacity. In 2009 its water capacity was 1200 cubic meters while in 1950 it was 5000 cubic meters. Scientists warn that Pakistan will face a water disaster within the next few years if interventions to ensure availability of water are not implemented.
Furthermore, there is a great concern that the construction of the Baglihar Dam will deprive Pakistan of water. Pakistan is of the opinion that further reduction in water capacity can be attributed to India’s construction of the Baglihar Dam. Scientists explain that over 320,000 acre feet of water is lost from the construction of this dam to Pakistan and will or has adversely affected or impinged on agricultural activities such as the production of wheat in the province of Punjab. In addition, irrigated land around Ravi and Chenab rivers is set to be adversely affected due to the reduced water capacity.
The conflict between Pakistan and India over water resources has been developing for a long time. Dialogue has apparently failed to solve this crisis which relates to the Indus treaty. Since this conflict has lasted several decades, leaders may get frustrated and resolve to use force to achieve their objectives. There are many scholars who are of the opinion that India is intentionally flouting the Indus treaty in order to force Pakistan to take military action against it. In such circumstances, India is of the view that it will win the resultant war and put the water crisis matter to rest. The water crisis should therefore be solved before leaders resort to taking this course of action which may adversely affect both countries.
There are various implications which the water conflict between India and Pakistan has on these states. Most are adverse implications and these are related to the hostility and suspicion between these countries, which hinder cooperation on essential economic matters.
Although, there are other reasons of increased tension between India and Pakistan, mainly on Kashmir which is the major source of water to Pakistan. Presently, there are various factors which can lead to conflicts over water resource sharing, especially during scarcity between two nuclear capable States of Sub-continent—India and Pakistan—who have the inbuilt hatred with each other after the partition of British India and always revile each other, whenever, they get chance, unfortunate, governments of both the countries are always kindling rancour instead of development for the common stock of the people in their respective countries. Of course, there are various factors which may lead to conflicts between states or groups who share scarce resources. Most conflicts arise when there is perception that one group is unduly benefiting at the expense of another. This quite often worsens the situation, when resources being shared are scarce and are required by a lot of people. The Pakistan-India conflict over the water resource is one example.
Population growth is a major factor which puts pressure on resources. Population growth leads to the over-utilisation of resources, and in case these resources are scarce, the population needs are not met. In such circumstances, this may lead to the development of conflict. Water is a scarce resource in many countries. When population growth exhausts the available water resource or the growth rate does not match the increase in water resources, then population needs will not be met, leading to conflict. The population will be unable to acquire safe water for consumption and adequate water for agriculture, especially in agrarian economies. In such cases, political instability may occur as citizens’ fight for their right to access a water resource. This conflict may begin at a local level and gradually escalate to a matter of international concern as in the case of Pakistan and India. Importantly, weak treaties are another major source of international conflict. Sometimes, treaties are used when sharing resources to ensure all parties acquire a reasonable stake in the resource. Treaties which are weak are those which may be ambiguous, those which do not anticipate future trends and those with loopholes among others. Weak treaties are bound to generate conflicts over time, as each party to the treaty analyses their benefits from the treaty and seeks ways of maximising benefits. When one or more parties realise that the treaty does not favour them, they are likely to rescind their decision to follow the Treaty. However, one mistake which often occurs when making treaties, and is the cause of conflict between Pakistan and India, is the inability to project future trends and needs. When the Indus Water Treaty was made in 1960, adequate projections on the water needs of both countries, in decades to come, were not properly done. It was therefore impossible to factor into account exceptions where either country would be allowed to construct dams in the various rivers, and their repercussions to those relying on such rivers for agriculture. It is necessary for treaties to factor in dynamic nature of the world in order to avoid future conflicts over water resource sharing.
When many countries discover a resource, they exploit it until it gets depleted without understanding the consequences of depletion of the resource. Water resources are no exception, and unless these are conserved, these are likely to be depleted or used ineffectively. Many poor countries do not conserve water although it is a scarce resource. Such countries are unable to meet the population needs when these water resources dry up, or have declining levels. Similarly, India and Pakistan lose millions of cubic meters of water daily due to lack of water conservation efforts. When such losses occur, the country is unable to satisfy its citizens’ water demands. The inability to meet this need is blamed on other factors and this may create conflict between two or more nations.
Climate change has had severe impacts on available resources. Environmental destruction has led to unpredictable and adverse weather conditions across the world. Such weather conditions include drought, floods, heat waves and others. In economies which heavily rely on agriculture, these conditions may cause heavy losses. When drought or winter occurs, and there is a limited water resource, this may lead to conflict over this resource especially if a nation has not taken enough water conservation measures. The latest dispute involving Pakistan and India relates to construction of upstream dams by India on waters flowing from Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan feels and argues that New Delhi might use these dams as a war weapon, besides, climate change, which is supposed to bring harsh winters and will reduce the natural river flow. Amidst huge trust-deficit Islamabad seriously senses that India might divert the rivers by leaving Pakistan completely dry. Both India and Pakistan as a part of asymmetrical warfare are promoting it through 3Cs, comprising; Collaboration, Congeniality and Co-laterality in harmony with non-state actors.
What is more, not all solutions will require large amounts of funding. On the contrary, finance ministers of each country may be inclined to action, if they know that inadequately addressing water and sanitation issues was costing them a significant portion of their country’s GDP. However, having said that, the resolution of the global water crisis will require a level of funding commensurate with the seriousness of the problem. As per World Bank, 2010 report, despite the critical need, investment in water management has dropped by more than 25% in most countries since the late 1990s. There is a disturbing mismatch between investment in the form of aid and results. Too often, there is a focus on water treatment at the expense of providing basic services in the areas where it is most needed. Achieving the target for both water supply and sanitation would bring economic benefits; investing US $1 would give an economic return of US $3-$4, depending on the region.
Money alone though will not be enough to solve all the problems. In many countries, major public institutions do not have the capacity to address water issues even if sufficient funding is available. Help from other countries as well as financing are required to ensure that water quality and availability issues do not stall economic or social progress or, worse yet, result in further conflict in many parts of the world. Development cooperation also needs to be encouraged in order to ensure that it includes all economic flows, and not just direct aid.
It will also be important to support and advance established United Nations International Water Protocols in order to make further advances in water security. UN has already devised a Legal Analytical Framework (LAF) for water security, but that this is not being met by many countries. On the other hand, an example of real progress toward higher international standards of water management is the 1997 UN Watercourses Convention. Unfortunately, many nations have yet to ratify this treaty.
Regional cooperation is essential to creating trans-boundary relationships that result in optimal levels of water, food and health security for all users sharing a particular river system. International examples, such as that of the Nile River Basin, suggest that effectively orchestrated basin-scale management of water resources can generate increased benefits for all within a regional context, if there is cooperation between all stakeholders. Other globally relevant models also exist, such as Canada’s Northwest Territories ‘Northern Waters, Northern Voices’ water stewardship strategy, which demonstrates how the rights of both people and nature to water can be a foundation of sustainable economic development.
The failure to address the global water crisis is not a question of austerity but of priority. Implementing and enforcing the laws and policies recognising the right to water is a first step towards achieving greater access to water and improved levels of human well-being and to support the global aspiration to make the right to water implementable and enforceable through the rule of international law by support of the ratification of the UN Watercourses Convention by all nations and the development of the draft articles on trans-boundary aquifers.
UN Security Council has to recognise water as a matter essential to establishing international, regional and national security. Besides, it should encourage increased investment in urgently needed sanitation coverage and improved access to safe water supply globally and the current trend of increasing water use in order to satisfy increasing agriculture and energy demands to meet the needs of a growing population has come at a cost of threatened water supply and quality levels. In addition, UN should facilitate the linking of water, agricultural and energy policies, both nationally and globally, in order to reduce jurisdictional fragmentation that often acts as a barrier to improved water management practices.
Leadership of the world should support a national, international and global priority on the monitoring of hydrological and hydro-climatic processes and encourage increased attention to the mapping and monitoring of both surface water and groundwater for better surface and groundwater monitoring and mapping are central to water security regionally and globally with Protection of Ecological Sustainability Boundaries and Investment in Ecosystem Restoration. Need arises to create a new era of hydro-diplomacy, beginning at the sub-national level but extending to the national, international and global levels of water governance. A global framework is needed around which countries can create a national water policy and complementary sub-national and local strategies that integrate water, food and energy within the national and regional security context. UN through UNESCO and UNICEF must introduce or strengthen water education programmes that include early education, targeted education, campaigns for water users and broader public engagement using tools like social media and to encourage broader private sector engagement in the development of new water treatment and conservation technologies, and new solutions to urban water infrastructure maintenance and replacement through equitable pricing of water services and other incentives that will improve the efficiency of water use. Such measures will go long way to meet the Millennium Development Goals (cutting in half the number of people without access to safe water and sanitation) and then rapidly move towards universal access to affordable, accessible, and adequate water. As well, it must be recognised that the forecast changes resulting from anticipated climate change impacts represent a formidable barrier to future progress and a threat to the gains that have been made in some regions. Efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, protect the world’s forests, and build resilience against the anticipated impacts of climate change, among many other environmental challenges, are inextricably linked to fulfilling the right to water over the long -term.
Water practitioners must find a way to help policy-makers translate effective action on public policy related to water into long-term support. However, ultimately, water security will require multi-term, non-partisan, and perhaps intergenerational political commitment. Renegotiating the relationship between people, water, and nature is not going to be easy and will take years to happen. We should begin cultivating these relationships and level of leadership now, and the UN bodies could be a very effective vehicle for doing so.
The severity of the water crisis cannot be ignored while pursuing economic development as it serves as the backbone of the economy. The deficit is growing with population growth rates on the rise and coupled with problems such as global warming and climate change, the issue has become a serious challenge for those working at the policy-making level.
There is a dire need to chalk out a holistic policy that helps to conserve and manage the resource effectively to meet food security and energy needs as well within Jammu and Kashmir on either side of LoC. This does not only highlight a need to inculcate water sense among citizens to avoid wastage but also emphasises the significance of close cooperation with India and Pakistan in joint watershed management, increasing the efficiency of water usage and working towards matching goals such as development of efficient technologies, sustainable agriculture practices and safeguarding both peoples against food shortages.The economic and social stability depends on the very resource that it is believed to run out of because of the fast melting of glacial ice in Jammu Kashmir on either side of LoC, essentially, Kashmir being the oldest international dispute in UN. Critical food shortages, increased frequency of natural disasters can activate the large scale dislocations of citizens and highly likely an increasingly destabilising conflict between Jammu and Kashmir on either side of LoC and lower riparian regions per se Pakistan on western basin of Indus and with India on eastern basin especially on Ravi with new dynamics.
Dialogue is the most effective way in which the dispute between India and Pakistan over water can be resolved. Other measures such as aggression or violence will only lead to losses among both countries. It is imperative that the issue is sorted soon in order to prevent further conflict or bloodshed which may occur as a result of the conflict, as has been seen. Since 1960 Indus Water Treaty has proved to be ineffective in solving the current dispute, both Indian and Pakistani leaders should hold dialogue and widen a new rather amended Treaty which will solve the present stalemate. The various issues which have been brought under consideration are relatively complex and may have been unforeseeable when developing the initial treaty. It is therefore necessary to alter the treaty to reflect the current concerns while safeguarding the interests of both countries. Since these rivers under consideration flow in both countries, it is clear that India and Pakistan are dependent on each other and none can exist independently, disastrously, people of Jammu and Kashmir are the worst victims.
Mediation is another successful strategy which may be used to end the conflicts between Pakistan and India. For mediation to be a success, it should involve a mediator who is neutral to concerned parties. Both Pakistan and India should choose a leader who comes from a country which is neutral to both countries’ interests.
In order to ensure that India and Pakistan both benefit from the rivers of Indus Basin, both countries should implement policies which favour their mutual use of the rivers. Pakistan should allow India to use rivers which complement its goals and vice versa, as long as national interests are not affected. For instance, when both countries are constructing dams, mutual consultation will enable then to draft policies which favour both countries and reduce destructive effects of this construction to the other country.
The fact is that, water conservation is a problem which faces both Pakistan and India. However, Pakistan appears to have greater problems as far as water conservation is concerned. Water conservation is important since it will enable both countries reduce reliance on the rivers, which are scarce resources and instead take advantage of rainfall and sea water to mitigate the citizens’ needs. Pakistan loses millions of cubic water to the sea due to lack of water conservation initiatives. Water conservation will enable Pakistan have more water for use in agriculture, and ensure that citizens have access to water. It will also reduce disputes which arise from the use of rivers by India and Pakistan since poor water conservation is one of the factors which has worsened the crisis.
Regional economic integration and cooperative trans-boundary water resources management holds significant potential for growth and increased security for the region. In the water resources sector, there is a clear need for a regional Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) approach that incorporates water, soil and erosion, and land-use management into the plan to increase agricultural productivity, hydropower production, and conservation of natural resources. This requires investments to improve technology, infrastructure, and delivery of services, social institutions capacity and markets access, as well as greater accountability and transparency of governments. Achieving these in the context of steady population growth, rapid urbanisation and a changing climate, represent major challenges for the countries of South Asia.
In this context global leaders in general and leaderships of India and Pakistan in particular should encourage broader Civil Society engagement in the development of new water treatment and conservation technologies, and new solutions to urban water infrastructure maintenance and replacement through equitable pricing of water services and other incentives that will improve the efficiency of water use. By large investments in meeting the needs of those who do not have water and sanitation services in cities, towns and villages and by accumulating an “environmental debt” by tactically spending on municipal and industrial wastewater the targets can be achieved with ease. It is clear that this has to change, and that it is going to take large amounts of investments with two pronged approach– investing simultaneously in infrastructure and in developing the institutions required for the sustainable management of increasingly-scarce water.
Bringing holistic expression to the existing Treaty is another way-out in which India-Pakistan water conflict may be resolved by deliberating Kashmir angle. However, when the Treaty was initially established, future projections on water benefits were not adequately assessed, so far as Jammu and Kashmir on either side of LoC is considered. Since the modern world is dynamic in this context it is necessary for India and Pakistan to take such steps by virtue of which both will get maximum paybacks and should project future trends as far as water consumption is concerned in order to avoid other future conflicts relating to water use. Only breakthrough can be achieved provided a progress is made to the early resolution of Kashmir, keeping hydro-politics aside.
Excerpt from Rao Farman Ali’s new book Water, Polity and Kashmir by Gulshan Books 2018