Better coordination with partner states and close monitoring by the Bhakra Beas Management Board saved 0.674 million acre-feet of India's share of Indus water which would otherwise have flown to Pakistan, Water Resources Ministry sources said Wednesday. The water saved will now be used during the summer season when the supply is scarce, they said.
Explaining the initiative, the sources said the Board decided to release less amount of water than what was demanded by the riparian states, expecting that the shortfall would be met by smaller streams and canals downstream. The supply from the streams and the canals were previously not factored in.
The sources said the riparian states, between May 21 and Sept 30 last year, had demanded 8.043 million acre-feet (MAF) of water from Bhakra and Pong reservoirs to meet their requirements. These states are Rajasthan, Haryana, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh.
The Board studied the flow from smaller streams into the reservoirs and canals downstream. "We realised that even if little less water is released from the main reservoir, the requirement of the states can be met from the water released from smaller streams," one of the sources said.
So the actual amount of water released during the period was 7.369 MAF and not 8.043 MAF as demanded by the states, saving 0.674 MAF of water. "The requirements of the states were met and the excess water which would have flown downstream to Pakistan was stopped," the source said. The data on this has not been officially released by the ministry.
Under the 1960 Indus Water Treaty, India has rights over three eastern rivers — Ravi, Beas and Sutlej. Pakistan has rights over Indus, Chenab and Jhelum. The Bhakra Beas Management Board plays a crucial role in distributing the water from the three eastern rivers to the riparian states in India.
It manages four major dams — Bhakra, Nangal, Beas, Pandoh and Pong. The Board also looks after barrages and a vast network of canals that take the waters right up to the border along Punjab and Haryana.
Of the total 168 million acre-feet, India's share of water from the three allotted rivers is 33 million acre-feet, which is nearly 20 per cent. India uses 93-94 per cent of its share under the Indus Waters Treaty. The rest remains unutilised and flows into Pakistan.
After the 2016 Uri attack, the ministry sources said, directions were issued to ensure excess water from India's share under the Treaty is not allowed to flow into Pakistan. Accordingly, the Board was asked to take steps to arrest the flow of excess water that had been flowing to Pakistan. Three projects, including the Shahpur Kandi dam project, a second Sutlej-Beas link in Punjab and the Ujh Dam project in Jammu and Kashmir were fast-tracked.
(With inputs from agencies.)