'Lax implementation to blame for ineffectiveness of Indus Water Treaty'
New Delhi, March 8 : Holding that the Indus Water Treaty is a well-thought-out document, a former chairman of the Central Water Commission Friday blamed the lax implementation by India and Pakistan for its ineffectiveness.
"Both the countries are lax in their implementation (of the treaty). Pakistan is more lax," A.K. Bajaj said while releasing the recommendations of the Indus Basin Working Group jointly prepared by the Observer Research Foundation, Delhi, Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Islamabad and the Stimson Centre, Washington.
Bajaj, who was also chairman of the Central Electricity Authority and an ex-offico secretary to the government of India, said what was needed is a change in the mindset of those who manage rivers.
Among the several recommendations made in the report, titled "Connecting the Drops", is the immediate need to prioritise investment in and institutionalise regular maintenance of the canal infrastructure.
It also suggests developing a digitised online model of the Indus Basin to foster regional network building and deepen hydrological modelling capacities.
The 67-page report stresses on the need to conduct a joint research study evaluating the cumulative environmental impact of multiple dams on a single waterway and develop the knowledge base on the relationships between dam cascades, river basin hydrology and climate change.
It also impresses on the need to increase the knowledge base on monsoon variability trends to improve outcomes for rainfall-dependent agriculture, along with use of multi-media tools to raise public awareness of climate change within India and Pakistan.
Speaking after the report's release at the Observer Research Foundation, the Stimson Center's David Michel, one of its key authors, said the survival of the Treaty itself also depend on inflows of the Indus, which in a big way is related to climate change that is affecting the river system.
"We should all come together to mitigate climate change and thereby disasters, as the glaciers are melting fast affecting the river flows," he said.
Syed Iqbal Hasnain, a member of the UN Environment Programme Committee on Global Assessment of Black Carbon and Troposhere Ozone, said the cryosphere (snow and glaciers) of the upper Indus basin is changing rapidly as the surface air temperatures have arisen 1.80 degrees Celsius over the last 50 years, more than double the global average.
He said warming temperatures and changing solid precipitation patterns are altering the duration, timing and extent of seasonal snow-covered areas. And they are contributing to a shift in the timing of peak melt runoff, resulting in low river flows during the summer dry season when demand for water in the lower riparian basins is high.
Hasnain said of the monitored glaciers, there is 17 percent loss in the Suru basin, 15 percent in Zanskar, 6 percent in Nubra, 16 percent in Spiti, 20 percent in Chandra and 30 percent in Bhaga.