Thursday, May 19, 2016

India's Plan to Divert Ganges & Brahmaputra Rivers Alarms Bangladesh

New Delhi is starting massive series of new projects to divert water from major rivers in the north and the east of the country to India's drought-stricken western and southern regions. This news has sounded alarm bells in the Bangladeshi capital of Dhaka, according to the UK's Guardian newspaper.

The $400 billion project involves rerouting water from major rivers including the Ganga and Brahmaputra and creating canals to link the Ken and Batwa rivers in central India and Damanganga-Pinjal in the west. Its target is to help drought-hit India farmers who are killing themselves at a rate on one every 30 minutes for at least two decades.




The Indo-Gangetic Plain, also known as Indus-Ganga and the North Indian River Plain, is a 255 million hectare (630 million acre) fertile plain encompassing most of northern and eastern India, the eastern parts of Pakistan, and virtually all of Bangladesh, according to a Wikipedia entry.

India and Pakistan have a formal internationally-brokered and monitored treaty called Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) signed in 1960 between Indian Prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan President Ayub Khan in Karachi.



The IWT allocated water from three eastern rivers of Ravi, Beas and Sutlej for exclusive use by India before they enter Pakistan, while the water from three western rivers of Jhelum, Chenab and Indus was allocated for exclusive use of Pakistan. The treaty essentially partitioned the rivers rather than sharing of their waters. The treaty also permits India to build run-of-the-river hydroelectric projects on the western rivers but it can not divert any water from them for its own use.

In the east, River Ganga upon reaching the Indian state of West Bengal splits into two main branches, the Hooghly which continues its course south into West Bengal and the Padma that flows into Bangladesh. Similarly, the Brahmaputra upon reaching Bangladesh splits into two main distributaries, the Jamuna and the Meghna. Both enter Bangladesh at different points.

At least 100 million Bangladeshis living downstream in Jamuna (Brahmaputra) and Padma (Ganga) river basins will be hit hard if India carries out the project as planned.

Alarmed by this development, Bangladesh’s minister of water, Nazrul Islam, has pleaded with the Indian government to take Bangladesh’s water needs into consideration, noting that 54 of 56 Indian rivers flowed through his country.

Bangladesh is already suffering from India's increasing withdrawal of Ganges water in recent years. India has built at least 26 water diversion projects upstream the Ganges which has led to crop failure and even desertification of certain areas in the lower riparian Bangladesh, according to Dhaka Tribune.

Unlike the internationally-brokered and monitored Indus Water Treaty (IWT) between Pakistan and India, there is no similar water-sharing treaty between Bangladesh and India. The 1996 Farakka treaty has done little to help Bangladesh.  It is dependent entirely on the good-will of the rulers in Delhi for its water life-line.

Will Modi respond positively to the pleas of his strong ally in Bangladesh's Shaikh Hasina to take its eastern neighbor's water needs into consideration? Will Modi assure Bangladesh by signing a binding water-sharing treaty along the lines of the Indus Waters Treaty? Unfortunately, the history suggests otherwise.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Water-Scarce Pakistan

Indian Farmer Suicide One Every 30 Minutes

Recurring Floods and Droughts in Pakistan

Indian Media Coverage of Regional Issues

Shaikh Hasina's Witch Hunt

18 comments:

Anonymous said...

Does The Dalali AL Government Have Enough Spine to Take It Up With India????? I Doubt It

Javed R. said...

The water is only one issue, The greatest threat to B Desh sovereignty lies in India, this government is particularly aggressive to neighbors . There was for a long time an understanding between SARC countries that cooperated to have a counter weight to India and its aggression. Bangladesh PM to cling to power, unlawfully I might add, has chosen to be super friendly with Modi and Co. this is a serious error

Syed S.S. said...

Hasina has sold her soul to Modi/India and they can take advantage of her and the situation to their hearts desire. Pakistan should vocally support BD if they elect to go to any world body to complain about the situation.

Anonymous said...

These matters will be center point of wars
btw India...Pakistan...Bangladesh..in future
and this prediction will come true around
world that...future wars will be on Water
and natural resources..Countries will
kill others peoples to feed theirs own
peoples..

Singh said...

Are Bhai, that project is to link all the Rivers of the India, so that in those areas, which have floods, the extra water could be diverted to those areas, where the extra water is needed, and will help in the inter river transportion. And in reality will help Bangladesh, and protect them from the floods, which disroyed the fields in the flood zone. It is not stopping the water which Bangladesh have the right.

Riaz Haq said...

From Wall Street Journal May 9, 2016:

A river that flows through India, China, Bangladesh and Bhutan is churning up the issue of water security in a fast-developing region.

The river–which is called Brahmaputra in India–is a source of tension between India and China and how those two countries are managing it affects Bangladesh downstream, a new report by Washington-based nonprofit, CNA Analysis and Solutions says.

The report, titled “Water Resource Competition in the Brahmaputra River Basin: China, India, and Bangladesh,” recommends ways the countries can stop the issues from drifting out of control.

Here’s a brief rundown of the report.

Where does the river flow?
The river originates in China, where it is known as the Yarlung Tsangpo. It then flows through India and Bangladesh, before entering the Bay of Bengal. Part of the river’s basin is also in Bhutan. In India, it runs through six states in the country’s east and northeast covering a distance of about 570 miles. In parts of India, it is also known as the Siang and in Bangladesh, as the Jamuna.

The river’s basin covers 580,000 square kilometers (224,000 square miles) through the four countries. The World Bank estimates that India and China occupy 50% and 34% of that area.



Why is the river important to China?
The river is strategically important for China, mainly for its hydropower potential. The report said China has already built one hydropower dam on the river and plans to raise four more. China is worried about India’splans to build hydroelectric dams in the northeastern state of Arunachal Pradesh, whose border is disputed by both countries.

China worries that plans to build on the river could “strengthen India’s ‘actual control’ over the disputed region and complicate border negotiations,” the report said. This could amplify tensions between India and China.


And, to India?
For India the waterway is one of its seven major rivers and is of immense political significance, the report said. Upholding rights on the river isn’t only key to India to consolidate its existing control over land that is contested with China, but also to cater to its need to manage flooding and soil erosion in the country’s northeast.


What do the recommendations say?
The report recommends an increase in sharing of hydrological data by India and China. China does so during the flood season and itshould consider offering “real-time, year-round river flow data to India,” the report says. India should do the same.

India should disclose how many dams it plans to build, the report said.

It also recommends an annual three-nation dialogue with participation from university and think-tank scholars from India, China and Bangladesh to discuss not just diplomatic, but scientific aspects of water-sharing, like potential ways to mitigate the effects of climate change.

http://blogs.wsj.com/briefly/2016/05/09/how-indias-river-row-with-china-shows-the-growing-importance-of-water-security-the-short-answer/

Anonymous said...

When Mujib was killed in 1975, not a single person in BD cried for him. Haseena hasn't forgotten that, she is taking revenge from everyone she can think of.

Sardarji, the problem is that India has a bad reputation, no one in the neighborhood trusts them and for very good reason.

G. Ali

Syed Qasim Abbas said...

not into Bangladesh and it's problems........care about Bengalis about as much as they care about Pakistanis.......none nada niet and I sugest other Pakistani's should get over it too

Riaz Haq said...

#India should resist being too ambitious about gdp growth: #RBI gov Raghuram Rajan - The Economic Times. #Modi #BJP

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/economy/policy/india-should-resist-being-too-ambitious-about-growth-raghuram-rajan/articleshow/52390350.cms

RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan has said India should restrain itself from being "too ambitious" at a time when the world is full of uncertainties and instead focus on sensible policies to ensure a sustainable economic growth.

"Given great uncertainty about outlook and policies of others in these times, a country like India should try to take sensible measures without getting too ambitious, as we have done so far," Rajan said, delivering the Mahtab Memorial Lecture in Bhubanesw ..

"This will serve as a sound basis for strong and sustainable Indian growth as the world economy picks up," Rajan, whose remarks comparing the Indian economy with an one-eyed king in a blind world led to a controversy, added.

The Indian government has been working hard to fasten the GDP growth and aspiring to take it to the double-digit mark from the current 7.5 per cent in the medium term.

Riaz Haq said...

SQA: "not into Bangladesh and it's problems........care about Bengalis about as much as they care about Pakistanis.......none nada niet and I sugest other Pakistani's should get over it too"


We need to differentiate between Indian puppet Shaikh Hasina and the ordinary Bangladeshis. They should not be made to suffer for her sins.

Majumdar said...

Prof sb,

Two points.

1. The plan is a non starter, the amount of land that has to be acquired is humungous and given our travails with land acquisition, it is unlikely ever to be implemented. Plus, the cost is so large that it will bankrupt the govt.

2. The plan is a hare brained one. There are much better ways, short-term result oriented and low cost ways of drought proofing India - rainwater harvesting, watershed management, no till agriculture, cropping patterns (switching from paddy-sugarcane monocultures to more coarse cereals, pulses and oilseeds).

Regards

Anonymous said...

"Sardarji, the problem is that India has a bad reputation, no one in the neighborhood trusts them and for very good reason."

This coming from a Pakistani is bit rich, since even neighboring islamic countries have better relations with India than Pak.

Check the comments:
http://www.dawn.com/news/1260176/iran-india-afghanistan-sign-transit-accord-on-chabahar-port#comments

Anonymous said...

This coming from a Pakistani is bit rich, since even neighboring islamic countries have better relations with India than Pak."

Same can be said about India. The smaller brotherly "Hindu" country has better relations with China than with India, they are always fearful of becoming the next Sikkim.


G. Ali

Riaz Haq said...

Why #Bangladesh is a bigger threat to #India than #Pakistan today. #ISIS #AlQaeda #Taliban http://www.oneindia.com/feature/why-bangladesh-is-bigger-threat-india-than-pakistan-today-2131965.html?utm_source=article&utm_medium=tweet-button&utm_campaign=article-tweet … via @oneindia

The worry is of course the radicals' reaching the eastern border and the opportunity is to bring Dhaka closer to New Delhi than it is to Beijing for China has shown a determination in challenging India by encircling it through the smaller countries in South Asia. New Delhi needs to engage with Bangladesh for it poses a bigger security threat than Pakistan today. At the same time, it offers a huge economic opportunity to integrate South Asia like never before. IS has a better chance of reaching India via the eastern front The IS has a better chance to flourish in Bangladesh and enter India from the east for two reasons: first, the IS has a bigger challenge to reach India from the west owing to the presence of the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Bangladesh, on the other other hand, is a more fertile territory for the IS to grow, thanks to the country's shrunk space for media and other freedom and the inability of the government to deal with the problem. Secondly, India has a more clumsy border to the east which is also given lesser strategic significance compared to that with Pakistan or China. We have seen in the recent past how extremist elements have been entering easily in the border state of West Bengal and conducting sinister activities. If New Delhi doesn't act to tighten things up in the east, the potential of India-Bangladesh relations could not just be ruined but even India's internal security would be jeopardised.

Read more at: http://www.oneindia.com/feature/why-bangladesh-is-bigger-threat-india-than-pakistan-today-2131965.html

Riaz Haq said...

Excerpts from a right-wing Hindu publication hindunet.org on the history of water issues between India and Pakistan:


Following the partition of the sub-continent, India and Pakistan signed a "standstill agreement" on 18 December 1947 which guaranteed to maintain water supplies at the level of allocation in the pre-partition days. However, on 1 April 1948, India without any warning cut off supplies to Pakistan from both Ferozepur and Gurdaspur. The action was contrary to the letter and the spirit of the international law covering interstate river waters. The Barcelona Convention of 1921 on interstate river waters to which India was a signatory disallowed every State to stop or alter the course of a river which flowing through its own territories went into a neighbouring country and also forbade to use its waters in such a way as to imperil the lands in the neighbouring State or to impede their adequate use by the lower riparians. But India as the upper riparian of the Indus rivers was in a position of strength. India could deflect the Beas into the Sutlej above Bhakra or divert the Ravi into the Beas at Madhopur. It could construct a dam on Wular lake in the Kashmir valley and dry up the river Jhelum. A headwork on the Chenab at Dhiangarh, north of Jammu, could deflect the Chenab from its natural course into Pakistan. The major projects of the Bhakra, Pong and Thein dams then in the offing, if completed, could drain off the rivers of Sutlej, Beas and Ravi.

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The Indus water Treaty was signed at Karachi on 19 September, 1960 by Prime Minister Nehru and President Ayub Khan. Under the agreement India promised to supply waters to Pakistan for the payment of expenses for operating the Madhopur and Ferozepur head works and their carrier channels, and also to contribute Rupees 100 crore for construction of replacement headworks to Pakistan.


http://www.hindunet.org/hindu_history/sarasvati/sarasvati_river/punjabriverwaters.html

Riaz Haq said...

I know that Indian hawks have persuaded Shaikh Hasina that Pakistan is the source of all evil and JI and BNP are ISI agents.
Such thinking is being seen by the rest of the world as myopic. Suppressing all political dissent might help Hasina consolidate her power in Bangladesh in the short term but it poses a serious long-term threat to the security and stability of Bangladesh.
Hasina needs to recognize that squeezing moderate Islamists like JI will drive further radicalization in the country and create even larger space for international terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda and ISIS.

Who terrorized Dhaka & Istanbul? Why were these cities targeted by terrorists? Is terror spreading farther and wider after recent foreign military interventions to check ISIS in Syria? Can military force alone end terror? If not, what else needs to be done? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lzx8I8C2MIo

Riaz Haq said...

From Indian diplomat-politician Sashi Tharoor:


The possibility of India revisiting the Indus Waters Treaty signed with Pakistan in 1960 has also aroused some strategists, and even MEA spokesperson Vikas Swarup, who said pointedly that “any cooperative arrangement requires goodwill and mutual trust on both sides”.
Under the treaty, India has control over three eastern rivers — Beas, Ravi and Sutlej —and Pakistan the western rivers of the Chenab and Jhelum. Swarup darkly hinted that it was in jeopardy: “For any such treaty to work, it is important there must be mutual trust and cooperation. It cannot be a one-sided affair.”
But the treaty under which the waters of the Indus and its five tributaries are distributed between the two countries is not purely a bilateral affair; it was brokered by the World Bank, whose involvement will be automatically triggered if India unilaterally abrogates it.

Nor can it be done like turning off a tap; various measures would be required to ensure that Indian cities do not get flooded with the water that is no longer flowing to Pakistan.


And then, we would set a precedent and we would be loath to see China follow on the Brahmaputra, where it is we who are downstream. We have long been a model state in our respect for international law, and our adherence to morality in foreign policy, even offering humanitarian assistance to Pakistan after earthquakes and floods.
Starving people by cutting off their water would be profoundly unworthy of us. This is why the treaty has, as Omar Abdullah recently pointed out, survived four wars and a unanimous resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir Assembly calling for its scrapping.
Under the existing Treaty provisions, however, India is entitled to make use of the waters of the western rivers for irrigation, storage, and even for producing electricity, in a “non-consumptive” manner, through “run-of-the-river” projects that do not reduce the ultimate flow to Pakistan.
Oddly enough, we have never taken advantage of these provisions, which are exactly what the Chinese say they are doing with their frenetic dam building on the upper reaches of the Brahmaputra, upstream from India. If we were simply to do what we are allowed to under the Treaty — we are entitled to store up to 3.6 million acre feet on the western rivers — it would be a more effective signal to Pakistan than arch statements from the MEA.

https://www.thequint.com/uri-attack/2016/09/25/scrapping-the-indus-treaty-will-isolate-india-globally-tharoor-modi-kozhikode-uri-terror-attack-kashmir-mumbai-26-11

Riaz Haq said...

Turning off Indus tap easier said than done
It is an idea that keeps returning to the table — but India probably can’t consider it without risks, including those of flooding its own cities and provoking even bigger waves of terror.

http://indianexpress.com/article/explained/india-pakistan-relation-indus-water-treaty-terrorism-3044967/

Amid the clamour for avenging the Uri attack, a non-military option being suggested — including by Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s External Affairs Minister Yashwant Sinha (The Indian Express, September 22) — is the abrogation of the 56-year-old Indus Waters Treaty that defines the water-sharing arrangement for six rivers of the Indus basin that flow through both India and Pakistan. The argument is that India, being upstream, can stop the flow of waters to Pakistan and bring it to its knees.
Pakistan’s dependence on the Indus system cannot be overstated. About 65% of its geographical area, including the entire Punjab province, is part of the Indus basin. The country has the world’s largest canal irrigation system, thanks to its development of the basin, which accounts for more than 90% of its irrigated area. Its three biggest dams, and several smaller ones, are located here. These are sources for hydroelectricity, irrigation and drinking water for millions of Pakistanis. If the tap could indeed be turned off from the Indian side, Pakistan’s capitulation is expected to be swift.

In stark contrast to their dealings in other matters, India and Pakistan have managed their shared river waters quite amicably, thanks to the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960. The Treaty has survived wars and innumerable phases of frosty relations. So much so, it is cited as the global model for cooperation on the use of trans-boundary river waters. The success of the Treaty also lends weight to the theory that when it comes to water, nations tend to cooperate rather than get into a conflict.
The Treaty, which came after a decade of World Bank-brokered negotiations, classified the six rivers of the Indus system into ‘eastern’ and ‘western’ rivers. Sutlej, Beas and Ravi were eastern; Jhelum, Chenab and Indus itself were western. The categorisation was relative — the western rivers flow almost parallely to the west of the eastern ones. Indus, the largest river, originates in China, so does the Sutlej. The other four rise in India; all enter Pakistan from India.
The Treaty gave India full rights over the waters of the eastern rivers, while it had to let the western rivers flow “unrestricted” to Pakistan. India could use the waters of western rivers as well, but only in a “non-consumptive” manner. It could use it for domestic purposes, and even for irrigation and hydropower production, but only in the manner specified in the Treaty. With the eastern rivers, India could do as it pleased.
A Permanent Indus Commission was established to implement the Treaty. Each country has an Indus Commissioner, and they meet regularly — every six months these days — to exchange information and data, and to settle minor disputes. Meetings of the Indus Commissioners have never been suspended — more than 110 rounds of meetings, held alternately in India and Pakistan, have taken place so far.

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Indeed, the Treaty allows India to construct storage up to 3.6 million acre feet on the western rivers. But India has developed no storage capacities; nor has it utilised the water it is entitled to for irrigation.
Sinha also argued for India’s greater engagement with Afghanistan on the development of the Kabul river that flows into Pakistan through the Indus basin. “This again can make Pakistan extremely nervous. It is in our strategic interest in any case to enhance our engagement on developmental issues with Afghanistan,” he said.
Stopping the waters of the Indus rivers, on the other hand, can be counterproductive, Sinha said. “We have water-sharing arrangements with other neighbours as well. Not honouring the Indus Treaty would make them uneasy and distrustful. And we would lose our voice if China, decides to do something similar.”