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January 24, 2021

Chenab River flows come to a standstill

National

January 24, 2021

LAHORE: The flows of the Chenab River have come to a standstill, triggering trans-boundary finger pointing towards India.

The water inflows of the Chenab River from Indian-Occupied Kashmir at the Marala Headworks close to border has dropped to its lowest ebb ever of zero cusecs. Commenting on the reported river flow data, a senior official of Pakistan’s Permanent Indus Commission said: “Seasonal lows are possible in river discharges but dipping inflows to zero level is strange. That development needs to be checked,” he added without mentioning any specific reference to upstream water infrastructure built by India on the eastern rivers including the Chenab River.

Water sharing rights between Pakistan and India are defined under the World Bank and United Nations-brokered Indus Waters Treaty (IWT). However, distrust and many objections raised by Pakistan over Indian designs to block the flow of the western rivers including Indus, Jhelum and Chenab made relations bitter on several occasions. Even such events sparked fear of a full-fledged war between the two countries.

According to explicit provisions of the IWT, Pakistan has an unrestricted use of all the waters of the western rivers, which India has an obligation to let flow after utilizing pre-defined volume of available supplies.

Commenting on the unprecedented standstill of Chenab water, an official of the Flood Forecasting Division of the Pakistan Meteorological Department told this scribe on Saturday night that Chenab River flows from Indian side at Marala Headworks in District Sialkot bordering the Jammu region of Indian-Occupied Kashmir have been reported zero for the last 24 hours. The inflows showed downward tendency over the past couple of days from 8000 plus cusecs. Earlier on Friday, he added, the flows were in the range of 2,100 cusecs to 2,700 cusecs.

As per a water report issued by the Water and Power Development Authority (WAPDA), the inflow of water at the Chenab River at Marala saw dropping to 2100 cusecs on January 22, 2021 from 8,600 cusecs reported on January 21 and ultimately hitting rock-bottom on January 23, 2021 (Saturday).