The infamous Indus Waters Treaty is under attack yet again. But people must know that there is no exit clause in the agreement, and neither party can wriggle out of it. Even an amendment in the Treaty, due to which the state of Jammu and Kashmir has suffered immense losses, has to be discussed with Pakistan. But alternatives are there to explore? Honouring the IWT has become a compulsion for New Delhi. In any case, legally speaking, it is virtually impossible for India to abrogate the treaty. Article XII (4) states that ‘provisions of this Treaty shall continue to remain in force until terminated by a duly ratified Treaty concluded for that purpose between the two Governments.’ This is the reason India did not seek its abrogation in the wars of 1965, 1971 and 1999; therefore, New Delhi is not likely to consider abrogation in the event of any future war as well.
Civil Society demands for transfer of power projects to the state have been turned down, recommendations of the Rangarajan Committee notwithstanding. Reports suggest that the Union Power Ministry has repeatedly urged J and K not to press this issue. The Chief Minister has been told that such demands would encourage other states to make similar demands. Getting the IWT abrogated is too big a task for Omar Abdullah, or any other politician for that matter. Had successive state governments raised the issue of the transfer of some of Jammu and Kashmir’s power projects, the situation today would have been different.
Former Chief Minister Dr Farooq Abdullah had sought the transfer of the Salal Project but when asked to behave like a `good boy,’ he dropped the issue. His son – the present Chief Minister – has not played his cards well, those-who-know say. Instead of seeking autonomy, he should have taken the people of the state into confidence and strongly sought the return of J and K’s power projects. Nobody in Jammu needs autonomy. Ladakh is happy with what it has been given. Kashmiris hate the word. But people in Ladakh, Jammu and Valley need power and can jointly support the demand for transfer of the power projects to the state. This could be a way out and compensate Jammu and Kashmir for the losses it has suffered due to the IWT. Civil society needs to intensify its campaign and take people from all regions on board.