ISLAMABAD  -  To settle the water dispute between India and Pakistan, the new government of Pakistan would have to knock the door of the World Bank regarding Delhi's violation of Indus Water Treaty 1960 and would demand it for setting up a court of arbitration.

“A new government is coming to power and it will have to approach the World Bank for setting up a court of arbitration for resolving the water dispute between India and Pakistan,” caretaker Federal Minister for Water Resources Syed Ali Zafar said on Monday while responding to a question that the World Bank was not responding positively to previous Pakistan’s demand of setting up the court of arbitration as Indian lobby was strong and its official was sitting on top posts of the Bank.

The Minister said that with the changing geo-political situation, China, Russia and Turkey are also acknowledging that water is the major issue of Pakistan.

Pakistan and India have dispute on the construction of 330MW Kishenganga and 850MWs of Ratle hydropower projects being built by New Delhi on the Jhelum and Chenab rivers respectively, he said.

The 1960s Water Treaty provides Pakistan an unrestricted water use rights on Jhelum and Chenab rivers, he added.

To a query, he said that the reversing of the Indus Water Treaty is not possible for both India and Pakistan and neither it is in the interest of Pakistan.

We have to exploit this treaty and do work on construction of water sector, he said. Syed Ali Zafar said that the interim government has formulated 10 points guideline for the development of water sector of the country.

These guidelines have been formulated after taking opinions from water experts and other stakeholders, the Minister added. Elaborating the guidelines, the Minister informed it suggests development of consensus on construction of Kalabagh Dam.

Besides, work on construction of Diamer-Bhasha Dame having water storage capacity of 11.7 MAF and Mohmand Dam with 0.75 MAF should be expedited, he added. Besides, the government should focus on construction of small dams and reservoirs, he said.

As climate change is hitting the country hard and the crops pattern is changing, which is likely to change the annual water availability of 138 MAF,therefore, construction of dams is very much necessary, he stated.

In 1960 when the Indus Water Treaty was signed, Pakistan was getting 138 million acres feet (MAF) of water annually and it had planned to construct eight dams and 400 reservoirs and run of river projects, he said.

However, since then, it has built only two dams including Tarbela and Mangla dams which have 6.43maf and 7.4maf live water storage capacities respectively, he added.

The remaining water is either used for agriculture purposes or going into sea untapped as India has built dozens of dams and canals and other reservoirs during this period, he stated.

The guidelines suggest that water sector allocation should be increased to 20 per cent of the budget, he said.

The current allocation of water sector is three to seven per cent which is far less than the 20 to 30 per cent being spent on water worldwide, he stated.

Ali Zafar said that priority should be given to the lining of canals that could save 6.5maf of water annually, which means that every year we could save water equivalent to the live capacity of Tarbela Dam.

Currently, due to absence of lining of canals, half of [48 per cent] water for agriculture sector gets waste, he added.

Adopting new agriculture system and equipment should be adopted and also provide financing to farmers for small projects, he said.

The government should also regulate the unregulated tube wells, he said.

He said that currently there is a confusion among the provinces on water distribution which can be removed by installing standardised equipment on water distribution. There should be a separate supply of drinking and sewerage water to consumers and for this purpose water treatment plants must be installed, he stated.

The Minister said that like Iran and Turkey, rain harvesting should be focused and construct small water reservoirs for this purpose. 

To a question that how the government can develop consensus on Kalabagh Dam, he replied: “we can educate the opposing parties but cannot force them. National interest should be the priority, however, development of consensus on it would be a challenge for the new government.”

Shamail Ahmad Khawaja, Federal Secretary of Ministry of Water Resources said that current hydel power installed capacity is 9,383 megawatts, of which 7,000MWs is being generated. Current power generation from Tarbella is 3,400MWs, Mangla 200MWs, Neelum-Jhelum760Mws and Ghazi-Barotha is 1,400Mws, he said.