India today ruled out cancelling the Indus Waters Treaty With Pakistan, but sources said in a new and aggressive move, New Delhi is planning on greater use of three of the six rivers that are meant to supply water mostly to Pakistan. Sources indicated the new strategy after Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a meeting with top officials on whether India can afford to leverage the river agreement to tighten pressure on Pakistan after the Uri terror attack. National Security Adviser Ajit Doval, Foreign Secretary S Jaishankar, Water Resources Secretary Shashi Shekhar and senior officials of the Prime Minister’s Office were in the meeting.
India has been debating the pros and cons of action on the 1960 water treaty that has survived two full-scale wars between the two countries, as a strong response to the September 18 attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Uri, in which 18 soldiers were killed by terrorists of the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed.Officials say an assessment of the Indus treaty is bound to factor in China, where the river Indus originates. China also holds the controls of the river Brahmaputra.
China also has the option of stopping the flow of Brahmaputra river water into India. The Brahmaputra starts as the Yarlung Zangbo in China and flows down into the Bay of Bengal, feeding millions in India and Bangladesh on the way. China is building 11 mega dams on the Brahmaputra and is in a position to hurt India’s interests. Experts are also divided over the merits of reneging on an international water sharing agreement. If India withdraws from an international pact, it’s a violation of a legal treaty, which will invite international condemnation. The Indus Waters Treaty was signed between India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan’s president General Ayub Khan after World Bank brokered negotiations that lasted almost a decade.In the agreement, control over the three eastern rivers – the Beas, Ravi and Sutlej – was given to India and the three western rivers – the Indus, Chenab and Jhelum – went to Pakistan, unrestricted.India can use only 20 per cent of the water of the Indus, which flows through it first, for irrigation, transport and power generation. If India were to cut off supply to Pakistan, it could cause major crises in that country as a majority of its areas are dependent on Indus water. But stopping the flow of Indus into Pakistan would cause floods in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab.