Indian PM Narendra Modi has vowed that unutilized river water shares currently flowing to Pakistan will be diverted to the fields of Indian farmers, reviving a longstanding promise during an election rally in Haryana state.
“For the last 70 years, the waters that belonged to India and farmers of Haryana were going to Pakistan. Modi will stop it and bring it to your households,” the PM promised during a rally at Charkhi Dadri in Haryana on Tuesday.
This water belongs to farmers of Haryana, Rajasthan and the country and we will get it.
“Work towards realization of this has been started and I am committed towards it. Modi will fight your battle,” he continued.
India and Pakistan share the waters of six rivers that flow through both nations under the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960, which has remained unbroken even through three wars. Under the treaty, India controls the waters of the Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej rivers, while Pakistan controls the Indus, Chenab, and Jhelum rivers. However, an estimated 5 percent of India’s unutilized water share flows to downstream Pakistani territory.
In the meantime, many of India’s largest cities are running out of water, thanks to years of below-average rainfall from a weakening monsoon season. At least 21 cities, including the capital of New Delhi, may run out of groundwater as early as 2020, leaving some 100 million people in dire straits.
Modi’s speech was not the first time his government has threatened to divert leftover water from its rivers. Then-Union Water Minister Nitin Gadkari warned Pakistan in February that it would “divert water from Eastern rivers and supply it to our people in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab” after a suicide bomb attack that killed 40 Indian soldiers in Pulwama. His counterpart in Islamabad accused New Delhi of “warmongering” and boasted of the strength of Pakistan’s army capable of dealing with any threat.