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Express Tribune

Published Date: Jan 12, 2012

PROTECTING WATER RESOURCES: WATER EXPERTS CALL FOR SIACHEN DEMILITARISATION

Independent experts have urged Pakistan and India to declare all Himalayan glaciers as ‘Protected Areas,’ and consequently demilitarise Siachen to preserve the second-longest glacier in the world for exclusively feeding into the Indus water basin.
The unanimous solutions have been arrived at after a series of dialogues with Indian water and energy experts, intelligentsia and environmentalists in New Delhi, Islamabad, Bangkok and Dubai, said water and energy expert at the Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Arshad H Abbasi, in a letter to the prime minister.
Independent commission
The experts also jointly proposed setting up an independent Indus Water Commission under the direct control of United Nations, and comprising neutral experts from various international agencies including the Work Bank, the United Nations Environment Programme and the European Union.
The proposed commission would have the mandate to compile and post real time data on a web portal, including information on all tributaries at all head-works and dams, and three-dimensional models of dams representing their flood storage data and hydropower projects.
The Indus Water Treaty is evidently the most successful confidence-building measure between the two countries, but there is a need to make the treaty more transparent using technology, Abbasi said.
A satellite-based, real-time telemetry system in Indian Kashmir, installed at a minimum of 100 locations for monitoring water quality and quantity would help remove mistrust on data exchange, he added.
Projects on Chenab
Abbasi has also drawn the prime minister’s attention to the ongoing work on the 990-MW Kirthai Dam and the 690-MW Rattle project on the Chenab River in Kishtwar district of Indian Kashmir.
“Neither the water and power ministry, nor the foreign ministry has taken up the case with the Indian government,” Abbasi said.
“We are left with very little time to plead our case since both projects are likely to be completed in the next five years,” he added.
The combined live storage of these projects would have an adverse impact on Chenab and other rivers.