Pakistani villages submerged as India releases river water



By Nasir Aijaz
AsiaN Correspondent

Islamabad: Dozens of villages in Pakistan’s Punjab province were submerged and scores of people evacuated after India released up to 38,000 cusecs of water into River Sutlej without prior intimation earlier this week.

“Over 50 villages were submerged and crops stretching over hundreds of acres were also destroyed by the flooding on Wednesday,” local media reported.

Rescue service and Pakistan Army personnel were busy transporting residents of the affected villages to safe areas, the reports added.

The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) had earlier warned of a flood-like situation in the areas alongside River Sutlej, after India decided to release up to 200,000 million cusecs of water into the river without notifying the relevant authorities.

The water level in the river was 17.8 feet with 37,640 cusecs on Tuesday, and was expected to reach up to 100,000 -150,000 cusecs by Wednesday, according to NDMA spokesperson Brigadier Mukhtar Ahmed.

On Monday, Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters Shiraz Jamil Memon said India had suspended the Indus Waters Treaty and stopped all kinds of data sharing related to the water agreement between the two countries. India also did not notify Pakistan about releasing additional water into River Sutlej, the official said.

However, on Tuesday morning Pakistan’s office of the commissioner for Indus waters finally received a letter from its Indian counterpart stating that the data was being shared under the treaty.

The Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) is a water-distribution agreement between India and Pakistan, brokered by the World Bank to use the water available in the Indus System of Rivers located in India. The IWT was signed in Karachi on September 19, 1960 by the first Prime Minister of India Pundit Jawaharlal Nehru and then President of Pakistan General Ayub Khan.

According to this agreement, control over the water flowing in three eastern rivers of India — the Beas, the Ravi and the Sutlej with the mean annual flow of 33 million acre-feet (MAF) — was given to India, while control over the water flowing in three “western” rivers — the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum with the mean annual flow of 80 MAF — was given to Pakistan.

Pakistan had received huge funds for handing over control of three rivers’ water to India. The India had been releasing water in the ‘purchased rivers’ towards Pakistan only during the flood situation.

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