In a note sent to the Centre, the J&K government said the state was in a paradoxical situation as far as the water sector was concerned. There was a massive run-off of water while the state had rivers. The river water cannot be harnessed for agriculture and power generation due to the odds placed on account of the Indus Water Treaty with Pakistan, the note says.
Distribution of water resources is extremely uneven in the state, especially in the Kashmir Valley. While water is plentiful in low-lying areas, the adjoining uplands suffer from aridity. The rivers carry a large volume of water which cannot be contained as their channels get choked with silt, leading to recurrent floods. Also, the water flows out practically unharnessed, without being put to any use before it escapes out of the Baramulla gorge. This has resulted in the state being rich in water resources but deficient in drinking water, and poor in generating electricity and irrigation facilities.
According to the note, it is the Indus Water Treaty, signed on September 19, 1960 between the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and the then Pakistan President Ayub Khan, which had led to the sorry state of affairs. Leaders from Jammu and Kashmir were not even consulted when the Water Treaty was inked.
According to the treaty, Pakistan is entitled to claim the waters of Indus, Jhelum and Chenab rivers and their tributaries.
Incidentally, all these rivers form the lifeline of J&K. While the waters of all these rivers were allowed to be utilised by Pakistan, the waters of all the rivers that flow through Punjab were retained by India for use in exchange as per the treaty. As a result, J&K is unable to fully utilise the waters of Indus, Jhelum and Chenab, the note said.
The note further stated that economic factors were the real reasons behind political turbulence in the state. Despite being endowed with plentiful water resources, Srinagar has experienced 19 droughts extending over four to six consecutive months in a cycle of 72 years. The Kashmir Valley alone
has a potential of generating 15,000 mw of hydro-power. But, only 2.5 per cent has been commissioned and another 2 per cent is at some stage of getting commissioned in the next decade.
Thus, hardly 3.5 per cent of hydro-electricity has been harnessed, whereas the state has the potential to produce almost 25,000 mw.
Not only the major river system, even rivulets like Erin, Madhumeti, Vishev etc., have a great potential for generating hydro-electricity. Erin is characterised by a steep gradient. It falls 80 mts in one km. Madhumati which merges into Wullar lake near Bandipur after traversing 39 km also falls steeply, the average fall being 103 mts in one km. But even after 53 years of Independence, 80 per cent of J&Ks energy comes from outside.
Section 4 of Article II of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) says that India shall not store any water or construct any storage works on western rivers. It is ironic that when the government of India entered into the agreement with Pakistan, J&K was not taken into confidence, whereas it had to bear the entire brunt of the Water Treaty.
Even the probable loss to the state on account of the treaty has not yet been fully estimated.
The real loss has been in agriculture. As a result, a drought of just 2-3 months can mean total loss of agriculture produce of that year.