River Indus | Commons
A representational image of Indus river | Commons
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JNU study says global warming could leave Pakistan side of Indus River Basin completely dry in less than 100 years, calls for better water budgeting.

New Delhi: A study by researchers from JNU on the effect of climate change on the Indus Basin waters has got the Prime Minister’s Office worried, ThePrint has learnt.

The study has concluded that climate change would give India greater control of the Indus Basin waters, which could leave Pakistan vulnerable and has hence called for better management of the water budget between the two countries.

The study has been published in the International Journal of Climatology, a highly reputed peer-reviewed journal on the environment.

Sources said the PMO concerns stem from the fact that an Indian university is now “echoing Pakistan’s stance on the Indus Basin waters”, and that too on an international platform.

The PMO, ThePrint has learnt, has got in touch with Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan and asked him to get details about the study, fearing political and diplomatic ramifications.

Also read: India, Pakistan set to resume Indus Water Treaty talks in Lahore on 29-30 August

The study

The study, conducted by Prof A.P. Dimri, along with Dhirendra Kumar, Simran Chopra and Anubhav Choudhary, has found that the current rate of global warming is expected to have a dire impact on the lower Indus river basin in Pakistan.

The study points out that if temperatures continue to rise as they have done in recent years, this part of the basin could even dry up by 2099, resulting in India having a larger control over the river waters.

Significantly, it concedes that because India is the upper riparian state, any role it plays will impact the politics of water across the river basin, including in Pakistan.

“Due to changing climate, IRB (Indus River Basin) region is vulnerable from water security point of view,” the study says.

“In the present study, it is found that upper IRB region has huge control over the downstream water availability. Any ambiguous shift in water budget over upper IRB will have an adverse impact on water stress in lower IRB.”

The impact on climate change on agriculture and water security is a relatively new science and thus will need adaptation policy at the governance level, the study says.

Also read: A 58-year-old pact still settles water dispute between India & Pakistan

A bone of contention

India and Pakistan have been at loggerheads over the sharing of the Indus Basin waters, a dispute aggravated both by climate change and the poor management of resources.

The two countries share five of the Indus River tributaries, of which waters from three — Ravi, Chenab and Jhelum — flow from India to Pakistan, while two — Sutlej and Beas — flow into India.

In 2010, Pakistan took India to the International Court of Justice in The Hague over the latter building a dam on the Kishenganga, a tributary of the Jhelum. Pakistan contended that India, the upper riparian state, was violating international law.

Although the permanent court of arbitration dismissed Pakistan’s complaint in 2013, going with the Indian argument that the dam on the Kishenganga is a “run-of-the-river project”, the fact remains that water disputes between the two countries are a matter of great concern.

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