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March 19, 2017

Pakistan keen to set up climate change monitoring system for Indus rivers


March 19, 2017

LAHORE: Pakistan will put forward an advice of deploying a monitoring mechanism to assess the adverse affects of climate change on the water flows of Indus rivers system during a meeting, scheduled on March 19, with an Indian delegation, officials said on Saturday.

As per the fourth point of agenda of the 113th meeting of Permanent Indus Waters Commission, Pakistan has communicated to India that discussion would be held on the monitoring of the parameters relevant to the climate change for the Indus system rivers, a senior official confirmed with The News. 

“As climate change would influence the flow of the rivers, so it cannot be excluded from the treaty framework,” the official of Pakistan’s Indus Waters Commission said. “Further, Paragraph 29 of Annexure G of Indus Waters Treaty mentions the international conventions and customary international law. Under these, the environment and climate change cannot be excluded.”

The treaty states except as the Parties may otherwise agree, “The law to be applied by the court shall be this treaty.” 

The Indus Waters Treaty gives option to the parties to resolve the issues. Pakistan and India signed the treaty after hectic negotiations in Karachi on September 19, 1960. It consists of 12 articles and 8 appendices.

A 10-member delegation of Indian Indus Waters Commission would arrive in Pakistan today (Sunday) for taking part at the two-day annual meeting of the commission. 

India agreed to revive Indus waters commission-level talks for discussing water issues after having virtually ended boycott of the negotiation process after around one and half year of impasse. The last meeting of the commission was held in 2015. India has also started exchanging water flow and agriculture use data with Pakistan. 

Another official said there is dire need to have a joint monitoring of Indus basin to deal with such a burning issue. 

Global warming is going to greatly affect the river flows, the official added.

“Therefore, we can never ignore the importance of having such a monitoring mechanism.” 

Watershed management is another tool that could help in making water flows smooth. Both countries should develop a mechanism in this regard and also ensure real time exchange of data related to river flows.

The official said both the countries should immediately take steps under the guiding principles of treaty to effectively mitigate adverse effects of climate change. 

He said Pakistan is already a victim of flow restriction on the eastern rivers. Even, India was not releasing flows in Ravi and Sutlej rivers to reduce environmental degradation. Due to a loss of regular flow in the eastern rivers, the riverbed has accumulated sand dunes, which are causing havoc to the fragile ecology of the area.

A senior official said India insisted on discussing the objections of Pakistan on Kishanganga and Rattle hydroelectric projects at the platform of Pakistan Indus Waters Commission instead of World Bank-driven process. Pakistan has refused this.

“We have responded to that and our response is that these will not be discussed as the process of discussion has been completed and gone to the forward stages.”