Tag Archive for 'indus river'

Regions where water disputes are fuelling tensions

Photo retrieved from: www.globalvoicesonline.org

“Disputes over water are common around the world, exacerbated by climate change, growing populations, rapid urbanisation, increased irrigation and a rising demand for alternative energy sources such as hydroelectricity.

Following are a few of the regions where competition for water from major rivers systems is fuelling tension.


India is home to three major river systems — the Ganges, Brahmaputra and the Indus — which support 700 million people. As an upstream nation, it controls water flows to Bangladesh to the east and Pakistan to the west. The Indus supplies some 80 percent of Pakistan’s irrigated land.

India and Pakistan are both building hydropower dams in disputed Kashmir along Kishanganga river. Pakistan fears India’s dams will disrupt water flows.

India, for its part, is concerned that China is building dams along the Tsangpo river, which runs into India as the Brahmaputra.”

Read more: Reuters


Pakistan and India to go to War over Water?

Photo retrieved from: www.pacificvoyagers.org

“But now a rising new element of discord threatens to precipitate a new armed clash between southern Asia’s two nuclear powers – water.

Lahore’s “The Nation’ newspaper on Sunday published an editorial entitled, “War with India inevitable: Nizami,” the newspaper’s Editor-in-Chief and Nazaria-i-Pakistan Trust At issue are Pakistan’s concerns over India’s ongoing construction of two hydroelectric dams on the upper reaches of the Indus River. Islamabad is concerned that the 45 megawatt, 190-foot tall Nimoo-Bazgo concrete dam 44 megawatt Chutak hydroelectric power project will reduce the Indus River’s flow towards Pakistan, as they are capable of storing up to 4.23 billion cubic feet of water, violating the terms of the bilateral 1960 Indus Water Treaty. The Indus, which begins in Indian-controlled Kashmir, is crucial to both India and Pakistan, but is currently experiencing water flows down 30 percent from its normal levels. The Indus is Pakistan’s primary freshwater source, on which 90 percent of its agriculture depends. According to a number of Pakistani agriculture and water experts, the nation is heading towards a massive water shortage in the next couple of years due to insufficient water management practices and storage capacity, which will be exacerbated by the twin Indian hydroelectric projects, as they will further diminish the Indus’ flow.

So, if push comes to shove, who’s got Pakistan’s back?


Read more: oilprice.com

Water: New weapon Of Mass Conflict

Photo retrieved from: www.hindustantimes.com

“A classified US report listed India’s three major river basins — Indus, Ganga and Brahmaputra —among the world top 10 water conflict zones in ten years from now.

The report based on National Intelligence Estimate on water security said the chances of water issues causing war in next 10

years were minimal but they could disrupt national and global food market and cause tension between states.

“Beyond 2022, use of water as a weapon of war or a tool of terrorism will become more likely, particularly in South Asia (India), the Middle East and North Africa,” the report said.

An insight on where India stands on water crisis is available in the recent household census data for 2011.

The per capita availability of water for a household has reduced with increase in number of households from 24.1 crore in 2001 to 33.1 crore in 2011.

As a result around 3.8 crore women travel on average more than 500 meters to fetch drinking water — an addition of 1.2 crore women in this water fetching women club. Their collaborative effort means covering 47 times the distance between earth and moon every day.”

Read more: Hindustan Times

US Intelligence Report: Expect Water Wars Soon

Photo retrieved from: www.commondreams.org

“A report released today on global water security from the Defense Intelligence Agency assesses that in next 10 years, water instability will be likely in “nations important to the United States”, and says that in the next decades, the use of water as a weapon will become more likely.

The report, which focused on the Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Mekong, Jordan, Indus, Brahmaputra, and Amu Darya water basins, states that the availability of potable water will not keep up with demand without better water management.

While environmentalists have pointed to agroecology, food sovereignty and viewing water as part of the commons as a path towards responsible water management, the intelligence report sees biotechnology, agricultural exports and virtual water trade as the way forward.

Today, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who requested the report, commented on the report in a speech at the State Department, saying, “As the world’s population continues to grow, demand for water will go up but our fresh water supplies will not keep pace.” “These difficulties will all increase the risk of instability within and between states,” she said.”

Read more: Common Dreams


8 Mighty Rivers Run Dry From Overuse

Rio Grande. Retrieved from: www.nationalgeographic.com

“One of the largest rivers in North America, the 1,885-mile (3,033-kilometer) Rio Grande runs from southwestern Colorado to the Gulf of Mexico. It defines much of the border between Texas and Mexico. But the once grande river is looking more poco these days, thanks to heavy use on both sides of the border.

Less than a fifth of the Rio Grande’s historical flow now reaches the Gulf. For a few years in the early 2000s, the river failed to reach the coast entirely. All that separated the United States from Mexico was a beach of dirty sand and an orange nylon fence.

Here, the river defines the international border across the Adams Ranch near Big Bend National Park.

Algae colors the confluence of the Rio Grande and Arroyo San Carlos.

The population in the Lower Rio Grande Valley is exploding in both the United States and Mexico, driven by NAFTA-era factories and agricultural productivity. But by the time it reaches Matamoros, the river’s level is so low that it often falls below the Mexican city’s intake pipes. Farmers in Texas say they lose $400 million annually due to lack of irrigation water.

The region’s wetlands, once critical stopover points for migrating birds, are getting choked off. All these problems are made worse by the decades-long drought gripping the region.”

Read more: National Geographic



India and Pakistan at Odds Over Shrinking Indus River

Photo retrieved from: www.nationalgeographic.com

“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. (See a map of the region.)

“Pakistan’s entire economy is driven by the textile industry,” said Michael Kugelman, a South Asia expert at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. “The problem with Pakistan’s economy is that most of the major industries use a ton of water—textiles, sugar, wheat—and there’s a tremendous amount of water that’s not only used, but wasted,” he added.

The same is true for India.

That impact is an important part of a complex water equation in countries already under strain from booming populations. More people means more demand for water to irrigate crops, cool machinery, and power cities. The Indus River, which begins in Indian-controlled Kashmir and flows through Pakistan on its way to the sea, is Pakistan’s primary freshwater sourceon which 90 percent of its agriculture dependsand a critical outlet of hydropower generation for both countries.

Downstream provinces are already feeling the strain, with some dried-out areas being abandoned by fishermen and farmers forced to move to cities. That increases competition between urban and rural communities for water. “In areas where you used to have raging rivers, you have, essentially, streams or even puddles and not much else,” said Kugelman.”

Read more: National Geographic


Wanted: Bridges Over Troubled Waters

Indus River. Retrieved from: www.afaq.com

“As Pakistan went to the Court of Arbitration in The Hague once again in mid-August 2011, seeking an order for India to put on hold construction of the Kishanganga dam until the final decision of the court, the overwhelming response among Indian policymakers was: “Oh, not again.”

The project on the Jhelum River, one of the main tributaries of the Indus, has been opposed by Pakistan since it got off the drawing board. But India has steadfastly maintained that the run-of-the-river project follows the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty between the two countries to the letter. Just about everybody in India feels that the treaty is the best basis for apportioning the waters of the giant Indus river basin, that India as the upper riparian country has stuck to the treaty through war and peace, and that Indians are unfairly blamed for Pakistan’s water woes to cover up the inefficiency or worse of the water policymakers in Pakistan.

Given the near-unanimity of this view in India, and the near-constant rhetoric in Pakistan that “India is stealing our waters”, there is very little space for any level-headed, rational and scientific conversation on the subject. The trust deficit is so high – especially in India since many of the country’s terrorist attacks over the last three decades have been traced back to Pakistan – that anybody advocating a dialogue would be lucky not to be dubbed a spy.”

Read more: China Dialogue

Pakistan’s Water Crisis

“The problem of water scarcity in the Indus basin is predicated partly on the inherent limitations of water supply in the Indus River System and partly on the growing water demand associated with inefficient water use in the process of economic and population growth.Unsustainable development practices have exacerbated the problemwith intrusion of salinity into the ground water, contamination of aquifers with harmful chemicals such as fluoride and arsenic and pollution of surface water due to lack of an institutional framework for environmentally safe disposal of urban and industrial waste. An important dimension of the water issue in the years ahead is the phenomenon of climate change, which could take the crisis to a critical level.

Water scarcity can be measured by the availability of water compared with the generally accepted minimum per capita requirement of 1,700 cubic metres per person per year. In their book, Freshwater Under Threat: South Asia, Mukand S Babel and Shahriar M Wahid have estimated that the per capita availability of water in the Indus basin is 1,329 cubic metres per capita per year. This is significantly below the threshold requirement. Another interesting indicator of the water problem is the measure of development pressure on water resources, which is the percentage of available water supply relative to the total water resources.”

Read more: The Express Tribune


Avoiding Water Wars

Photo retrieved from: www.heavenawaits.com

“With the climate change and as a consequence shrinking water availability across the Middle East, Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, violent conflict between states is increasingly likely. This matter was on the agenda of annul World Water Week forum in Stockholm held in 2006, but it could not answer the question raised in the meeting whether we are heading for an era of “hydrological warfare” in which rivers, lakes and aquifers become national security assets to be fought over, or controlled through proxy armies and client states? Or can water act as a force for peace and cooperation? It has been estimated by the experts that by 2025, more than two billion people are expected to live in countries that find it difficult or impossible to mobilize the water resources needed to meet the needs of agriculture, industry and households. Population growth, urbanization and the rapid development of manufacturing industries are relentlessly increasing demand for finite water resources. Symptoms of the resulting water stress are increasingly visible. In northern China, rivers now run dry in their lower reaches for much of the year. In parts of Pakistan and India, groundwater levels are falling so rapidly that from 10 percent to 20 percent of agricultural production is under threat.

In the past, there have been wars between the countries over religions, usurpation of territories and control of resources including oil, but in view of acute shortages of water in Africa, Middle East, Asia and elsewhere, the future wars could be fought over water.

In addition to Kashmir dispute, the Indus River Basin has been an area of conflict between India and Pakistan for about four decades. Spanning 1,800 miles, the river and its tributaries together make up one of the largest irrigation canals in the world. Dams and canals built in order to provide hydropower and irrigation have dried up stretches of the Indus River. The division of the river basin water has created friction among the countries of South Asia, and among their states and provinces. Accusations of overdrawing of share of water made by each province have resulted in the lack of water supplies to coastal regions of Pakistan. India and Bangladesh have also dispute over Ganges River water and India is resorting to water theft there as well. Nepal and Bangladesh are also victims of India’s water thievery. India had dispute with Bangladesh over Farrakha Barrage, with Nepal over Mahakali River and with Pakistan over 1960 Indus Water Treaty.”

Read more: Pakistan Observer

Pakistan Flooding Because of Farms?

Photo: People wading through flood waters

Photo retrieved from: National Geographic

“The major river engineering is basically a Faustian bargain,” says Daanish Mustafa of King’s College London, recalling the fable in which a man sells his soul to the devil in exchange for a life of luxury. Mustafa is a geographer who has studied the history of Pakistan’s river management.

“Until a few decades ago, there were typically mild floods each summer–the time when the monsoon rainfall hits, and the melt from the snowpack in the Himalaya and Karakoram Mountains is at its peak.

“But now, because humans have sculpted the river and the surrounding natural floodplain and wetlands for farming and other needs, there are fewer floods, but when they hit, they are far worse, said Mustafa.

“There’s not very much space [in the river channel] to absorb all the rainfall,” says Asad Sarwar Qureshi, a water resources expert at the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) branch in Lahore, Pakistan. “We need to get it back into shape, so that it can carry its original capacity.”

“Wetlands along the river’s course used to take up some floodwaters, and the government also used to divert excess water into “no man’s land” during the monsoon season, he says. But those areas have been converted to farmland, he says . . .

“Allowing the river to flood more regularly, and naturally, could help temper the floods and make them more tolerable, say Mustafa and other experts . . .

“Managing Pakistan’s floods is a delicate balance between giving the river more room, and building barriers to protect people and their land.”

read more: National Geographic