Sajjad Hussain Palejo Whilst the "energy cum power crisis" has precipitated the economic slowdown and augmented anguish in the life of citizens with lengthy spells of "power stoppages", India withheld millions of cubic feet of water upstream on the Chenab in Indian-administered Kashmir and stored it in the massive Baglihar dam so as to produce hydro-electricity. This was a flagrant breach of Indus Water Basin Treaty of 1960, as it resulted in the substantial decrease of water levels of both the river and subsoil water. After initial talks to try and resolve the issue, the matter has been put on pause because India considers it an inappropriate climate for "peace process and Composite dialogues in the wake of Mumbai attacks of 26 November, 2008 in which 170 people were killed, fuelling tensions between the two neighbours. However, it is hoped that when India sees Pakistan is serious in fighting the militants in FATA, India will soften her stance and re-start peace process and r the distribution of water as a resource. This is because the sources of all the five tributaries of the Indus - Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas and Sutlej remained in India. The dispute between India and Pakistan over water resources is rooted in history. Just after the partition of the subcontinent in 1948, Delhi stopped the flow of water from the canals on its side, denying water to some 8 per cent of the cultivated area. However, India agreed with Pakistan, which allowed for the continuation of water supplies for irrigation purposes until the Pakistani side managed to develop alternative water resources. As a result of World Bank's constant efforts from 1952 to 1960, the Indus Water Treaty-1960 was signed, designed to regulate water use in the region. According to Indus Water Treaty of 1960, India has got the exclusive control over the waters of the Ravi, Beas and Sutlej, whereas Pakistan controls the waters of the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab. As the demand for water has increased by leaps and bounds, India is seeking maximum control over the sources of the supply of water of 3 western rivers, and thereby increasing the tension with Pakistan that share the claims over water. At the current pace the population of Pakistan will rise to 270 million in 2025. The alarming situation again emerged in 1984 when India announced plans to build the barrage on the Jhelum River at the mouth of Wullar Lake, the largest fresh water lake, near the town of Sopore in the disputed Kashmir Valley. This created uproar in the Pakistani camp and under compulsion India had to stop the constructional work on the project. Again in 1992, India announced her plans for another controversial water reservoir, the Baglihar Dam on the Chenab River- allotted to Pakistan by the 1960 treaty. The Chenab is fed with glacial melt-waters from the Himalayas and for centuries has provided crucial irrigational system for the region. While the accord gave India full rights to use water from the eastern rivers by building dams and barrages, it allowed limited irrigation use of water from the western river earmarked for Pakistan. The Treaty barred India from interfering "with the water of these rivers except for domestic use and non-consumptive use, limited agriculture use and limited utilization for generation of hydro-electric power." The treaty also barred India from storing any water or constructing any storage works on the western rivers that would result in a reduced flow of water to Pakistan. The water dispute has been on the agenda of the composite dialogue, but no progress has been made. While talks have yet to yield results, Indian attempt to use water as a geo-strategic tool, is unfair and in contravention to the IWT-1960. Ever since the inking of Indus Water Treaty-1960 over collective sharing of water, the Indian Government has devised a well-articulated strategy to deprive Pakistan of water and render it into a desert. The construction of Uri Todiam Dam, Kishan Ganga Dam, Salal dam, Wullar barrage, Tulbul Navigational barrage, Baglihar dam etc, on Pakistani rivers, are grand design to conquer Pakistani water, because dams on these site have the potential to make the well-placed link-canal system redundant in Pakistan. By doing so, India will be in a position to close down both of these rivers (i.e. Jhelum and Chenab). If it is allowed to happen, then it would make Pakistan barren by 2014. The Baglihar Dam along with other dams has diminished the flow of Chenab during the vital Rabi crop-sowing season (January and February) threatening Pakistan's agro-based economy. According to Indus Water Treaty-1960, Pakistani position on the Chenab water issue has been that a minimum of 55,000 cusecs of water should flow into Pakistan at the Marala headworks near Sialkot in peak season; however, a flow of only 22,000 cusecs was recorded last year, adversely affecting the crops. Pakistan demanded compensation for the water from India. The Indian did not pay any heed to objections raised by Pakistan relating to the compensation for the loss of 23,000 cusecs of water. India says that the dam has been built on "run-of-the-water" and as such the amount of water to Pakistan would not reduce. In this connection, Indian commissioner on water, G Aranganathan said it had invited Pakistan's water commissioner Mr. Jama't Ali Shah to visit the dam to see that the Chenab's flow was naturally low. The 470-feet high, 317-meter wide dam, with a storage capacity of 15 billion cusecs of water, has significantly reduced water flow to agriculture-dependent Pakistan. Some of the objections raised by Pakistan on the construction of Baglihar dam are: Firstly, it will have poverty and ecological effects in Pakistan. Secondly, it gave India a strategic leverage in times of tension or war with Pakistan. Thirdly, it would dry some 5.6 million acres of land. India should release Pakistan's share of river waters and if it is not done, Pakistan will left with no other choice than to take the issue to the court of arbitration or to neutral experts. Throughout history, rivers have been our foremost source of fresh water for both agriculture and individual consumption. Water has caused people to rise up against people and country to rise up against country. Countries must avoid "unilateralism" in building water dams cum hydroelectric projects. Any major upstream alteration in a river system, or increase in use of shared groundwater, should be negotiated, not imposed as in case of Indian water overtures on its neighbors. The governments of India and Pakistan should look beyond national borders to basin-wide cooperation. India, the biggest country of the region, has to allay the concerns of its neighboring countries, i.e. Pakistan & Bangladesh as the lower riparian states and Nepal and Bhutan as the upper riparian states, while utilizing the hydro potential of its waters. Upholding the thesis of "collective use of Hydrology", India should release water from its own share to save the Indus delta so vital for keeping the regional ecological system robust. India has plans to build 65 dams to cater the growing needs of its burgeoning population. On the other hand, Pakistan has so far constructed only 63 dams altogether. The Chenab water blues can be judiciously addressed by sharing the water as a "collective resource" for our future generations.