The Indus Water Treaty review meeting has decided to set up an inter-ministerial task force to go into the details and working of the agreement with a sense of urgency
New Delhi: “Blood and water cannot flow together," Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday as he chaired a review meeting of the 56-year-old Indus Water Treaty during which it was decided that India will “exploit to the maximum" the water of Pakistan-controlled rivers, including Jhelum, as per the water-sharing pact.
Held amid heightened tension between India and Pakistan, the meeting also decided to set up an inter- ministerial task force to go into the details and working of the treaty with a “sense of urgency", senior government sources said.
Attended by national security advisor Ajit Doval, foreign secretary S. Jaishankar, the water resources secretary, and senior officials from the Prime Minister’s Office, the meeting also noted that the meeting of Indus Water Commission can “only take place in atmosphere free of terror". The Commission has held 112 meetings so far.
“Prime Minister Modi’s message at the meeting was that ‘rakt aur paani ek saath nahin beh sakta’ (blood and water cannot flow together)," sources said.
Apart from deciding to exploit to the maximum the capacity of three of the rivers that are under Pakistan’s control—Indus, Chenab and Jhelum—in the areas of hydro power, irrigation and storage, the meeting also agreed to review the “unilateral suspension" of the Tulbul navigation project in 1987.
The sources asserted that the decision to maximise the water resources for irrigation will address the “pre-existing" sentiment of people of Jammu & Kashmir, who have complained in the past about the treaty not being fair to them.
The meeting came as India weighed its options to hit back at Pakistan in the aftermath of the 18 September Uri attack that left 18 soldiers dead, triggering demands that the Modi government scrap the water distribution pact to mount pressure on Islamabad.
Under the treaty, which was signed by then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistani President Ayub Khan in September 1960, water of six rivers— Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum—were to be shared between the two countries.
Pakistan has been complaining about not receiving enough water and gone for international arbitration on at least two separate occasions.