Modi raises pitch on Indus treaty, reaches out to Jammu vote bank
Modi on Monday chaired a review meeting of the 56-year-old Indus Water Treaty.
Sources asserted that the decision to optimally use the water resources for irrigation will address the “pre-existing” sentiment of people of Jammu and Kashmir, who complained in the past about the treaty not being fair on them. BJP swept the Jammu region during the assembly polls in the state.
The meeting came as India weighed its options to hit back at Pakistan in the aftermath of the Uri attack that left 18 soldiers dead, triggering demands that the government scrap the water distribution pact to mount pressure on that country.
Under the treaty, which was signed by Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan President Ayub Khan in September 1960, water of six rivers—Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum—were to be shared between the two countries. Attended by National Security Advisor Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, the Water Resources Secretary, and senior PMO officials, the meeting also noted that the meeting of Indus Water Commission can “only take place in atmosphere free of terror”. The Commission has held 112 meetings so far.
Keeping the tempo of the rhetoric high, the Prime Minister is believed to have said during the consultations that “blood and water cannot flow together.” Held amidst heightened tension between India and Pakistan, the meeting also decided to set up an inter-ministerial task force to go into the details and working of the Treaty with a “sense of urgency”, senior government sources said. “Prime Minister Modi’s message at the meeting was that ‘rakt aur paani ek saath nahin beh sakta’ (blood and water cannot flow together),” sources said.
Apart from deciding to exploit to the maximum the capacity of three of the rivers that are under Pakistan’s control—Indus, Chenab and Jhelum—in the areas of hydro power, irrigation and storage, the meeting also agreed to review the “unilateral suspension” of 1987 Tulbul navigation project. The project was suspended in 2007.