Introduction to Blog

I launched the website and the Blog after having spoken to government officials, political analysts and security experts specializing in South Asian affairs from three continents. The feedback was uniformly consistent. The bottom line is that when Kashmiris are suffering and the world has its own set of priorities, we need to find ways to help each other. We must be realistic, go beyond polemics and demagoguery, and propose innovative ideas that will bring peace, justice and prosperity in all of Jammu and Kashmir.

The author had two reasons to create this blog. First, it was to address the question that was being asked repeatedly, especially, by journalists and other observers in the U.S., U.K., and Canada, inquiring whether the Kashmiri society was concerned about social, cultural and environmental challenges in the valley given that only political upheaval and violence were reported or highlighted by media.

Second, the author has covered the entire spectrum of societal issues and challenges facing Kashmiri people over an 8-year period with the exception of politics given that politics gets all the exposure at the expense of REAL CHALLENGES that will likely result in irreversible degradation in the quality of life and the standard of living for future generations of Kashmiris to come.

The author stopped adding additional material to the Blog once it was felt that most, if not all, concerns, challenges and issues facing the Kashmiri society are cataloged in the Blog. There are over 1900 entries in the Blog and most commentaries include short biographical sketches of authors to bring readers close to the essence of Kashmir. Unfortunately, the 8-year assessment also indicates that neither Kashmiri civil society, nor intellectuals or political leadership have any inclination or enthusiasm in pursuing issues that do not coincide with their vested political agendas. What it means for the future of Kashmiri children and their children is unfathomable. But the evidence is all laid out.

This Blog is a reality check on Kashmir. It is a historical record of how Kashmir lost its way.

Vijay Sazawal, Ph.D.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Managing and Conserving a Scarce Natural resource

Ashraf presents a lucid and comprehensive description of challenges and opportunities faced by India, with special emphasis to J&K, on how to manage scarce (and ever shrinking) water resources

(Mr. Mohammad Ashraf Fazili, 68, was born in Srinagar. He received his early schooling from the Government Middle School, Nowhatta, Srinagar, and from M.P. High School, Baghi Dilawar Khan in Srinagar. Mr. Fazili completed his F.Sc. from the Sri Pratap College in Srinagar, and received his Bachelor's degree in Civil Engineering from the Annamalai University with honours grade. He joined the J&K government service upon graduation and steadily rose up the ranks to the position of Chief Engineer at his retirement. He managed a number of important infrastructure projects during his government service, including the Model Town Chrar-i-Sharif, Lower Jhelum Hydro Electric Project, Solid Waste Disposal Scheme Srinagar City, Circular Road Project Srinagar City, etc. He has numerous publications to his credit, including Srinagar the Sun City, Our Ancestors and Saints of Kashmir, etc., which were presented in seminar and symposia. He writes for various journals and is presently working on the Jhelum Valley Civilization.)

Water Resource Development in India and J&K State

The water available to us on Earth is a finite quantity that has not changed over millennia. This has to be compared with increasing demands from a growing population. The population of the world is expected to exceed 8 billion by the year 2050 as against 6 billion in 2000 AD adding over 79 million every year. Apart from shear numbers, the processes of urbanization and development shall vastly increase the demand of fresh water. This situation of a finite supply and a growing demand leads to the projection of water scarcity, which could be severe in some parts of the world.

Institutions like World Water Commission, World Water Council, Global Water Partnership have sprung up to deal with this end and related matters. Efforts have been on to build up national, regional, and global ‘water visions’ for the year 2025 which culminated in a massive World water forum at The Hague in 2000 AD.

There has been growing concern of threatening water scarcity. Seminars and conferences all over the world have suddenly made it a favoured subject. The UNDP, the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank are concerned about the projected global water scarcity.

It is envisaged that future wars will be fought over water and not oil. The scarcity in parts of India in the last few years and even in J&K State has raised the alarm.


Within India, a consciousness of the importance of the subject of water resources led to the establishment of National Commission on Integrated Water Resources Development plan six years ago which submitted its report in the year 1999.

The annual precipitation by way of rain and snow over India’s land mass is 4,000 cu. Km, but the annual water resources of the country are measured in terms of the ‘run off’. This has been estimated by the National Commission as 1,953 cu. Km. (including both surface and ground water resources). The annual ‘usable’ water resources of the country are 690 cu. km. of the surface water and 396 cu. km. ground water making a total of 1086 cu. km. The present quantum of use in put around 600 cu. km.

Thus in national terms the position is not uncomfortable at the moment, though this will change with the growth of population and the process of urbanization and development. The National Commission has come to the conclusion that by 2050 the demand will Catch up with the supply. There will be a difficult situation, provided that a number of measures on the demand and supply sides are taken in time.


National aggregates and averages are not useful. There are wide variations in the availability of water in the country. Much of the rainfall occurs within a few months during the year and even during that period, the intensity is concentrated within a few weeks. There is a wide range in precipitation from 100 mm in Rajasthan to 11,000 mm. in Cherrapunji. Sixty percent of the water resources of India are to be found in the Ganga, Brahmaputra and Meghna river systems, which account for 33 percent of the geographical area of the country; 11 percent in the west flowing rivers south of Tapti covering 3 percent of the area; and the balance 29 percent in the remaining river systems spread over 64 percent of the land area.

The Himalayan Rivers are snow-fed and perennial, where as the peninsular rivers are dependent on the monsoons and therefore seasonal. Again the North and the East are well endowed with water, whereas the west and south are water short. Apart from the desert areas of Rajasthan, there are arid or drought prone areas in parts of Gujrat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and the eastern parts of the country experience devastating floods from time to time.


The solutions suggested have been (a) storing river waters in reservoirs behind large dams to transfer water from the season of abundance to that of scarcity (b) Water transfers from surplus areas to water short areas. Both large storages (i.e reservoirs) and the ‘linking of rivers’ (i.e inter basin transfers) have been striking the minds of water resource planners. The idea of gravity link canal between the Brahmaputra and Ganga through Bangladesh was rejected by Bangladesh and has been abandoned but the idea of tapping the waters of the Brahmaputra continues to exercise the minds of our water planners.

The idea of Ganga- Cauvery link mooted by Dr. K. L. Rao and a proposal of garland canal – since discarded; are still haunting the minds of Indian public, particularly the water-short south. The National Water Development Agency (NWDA) has been studying the resources of different basins for over two decades, assessing the surpluses for transfer and identifying possibility of storages, links and transfers. The possibility of transferring waters from the Mahanadi to Godavari and thence to Krishna, the Pennar and the cauvery, though it is difficult to persuade Orissa and Andra Pradesh that there is a surplus in the Mahanadi or in the Godavri.

Recently even supreme court had to intervene over water dispute between the two southern States.

Besides the diversion of west- flowing rivers eastwards has also met with resistance. In recent years, the NWDA has been studying the Himalayan rivers, but this is an even more difficult subject.

Though the National Commission talks about demand management, economy in water use, resource conservation etc. and local harvesting and watershed development projects, which are regarded as the primary answer to the future needs of a growing population. The report also discusses the financing of the projects and the contributing role of private sector participation in the massive effort that is envisaged.

Thus at the regional/ international level and at the national level there seems to be wide spread agreement that (a) to the projected water needs of the future an important part of the answer lies in water Resource Development Projects and (b) considering the financial constraints and managerial limitations of government, a significant part of that development will have to come from the Private sector.

Various Projects under Consideration

A number of projects are envisaged for hydroelectricity and Irrigation and flood moderation in some cases in Nepal, Karnali, Pancheswar, Sapatakosi etc. Bangladesh being interested in these and other projects in Nepal form the point of view of augmenting the lean season flows of the Ganga. In India the Tehri Hydroelectric Project in Himalayas, is being built despite opposition. Several projects have been formulated in Brahmaputra besides the idea of transfer of waters from Brahmaputra is still live. In Bhutan, Mamas and Sankosh projects are to come up. In Tripura, the Tipaimukh project in Magna/Barak has been proposed. On the Teesta, a tributary of the Brahamputra, both India and Bangladesh have built Barrages and overcome inadequacy of water, the idea of building a dam has been mooted.

The NWDA has been studying the possibility of transfer of waters from the Mahanadi to the Godavari and thence to Krishna, the Pennar and the Cauvery. This would involve building a number of dams and links. The idea of transfer from the Himalayan rivers to the Peninsular rivers is also on the anvil. The State Govt’s of Maharashtha Karnatka and Andhra Pradesh may embark on a number of projects with a view to establishing or improving their respective claims under the Awards of Tribunals on the shared rivers. On the Narmada, apart from the major projects (Sardar Sorovar, Narmada Sagar), a host of other projects, big and small are envisaged in the overall plan. Finally there is the idea of diversion of some west flowing peninsular rivers eastwards.

However not many of these projects one likely to materialize one to financial constraints and strong opposition to the projects. Assuming if most of these materialize there will be an addition to hydroelectric power capacity, creation of additional irrigation potential and consequent enhancement of agricultural production, some flood moderation and possibly an addition to navigation possibilities.

There will also be adverse impacts (environmental, social and human) and there can be no assurance that the benefit will outweigh these costs. Assuming however, the gains will exceed costs, the totality of the projects taken together will constitute a massive onslaught on nature.


The impact will vary from case to case but the common factor shall be violent disturbances of prestine areas, varying degrees of submergence of land including forests in some cases, impact on flora and fauna, leading to a reduction in biodiversity, in particular, severe impacts on the fish population in the rivers, the stilling of flowing waters leading to temperature stratification, variations in nutrient content and dissolved oxygen rendering the water inhospitable to aquatic life, drastic changes in the river regime down stream of the dam, increased pollution levels, and so on. Some of these effects cannot be remedied or even mitigated and in some cases efforts at mitigating or compensating for environment impacts create further problems. Further, it is clear from past experience, that all the consequences and ramifications arising from the damming of a river cannot really be fully foreseen and planned for.

In most cases there will be varying degrees of displacement of human settlements, with the attendant problems of resettlement and rehabilitation, this impact falls on poor and disadvantaged sections particularly tribal communities.

Inspite of all these disadvantages, it is established that future needs cannot be met without massive ‘Water Resources Development’ i.e large storage (dam and reservoir) projects and that local rainwater harvesting and watershed development, while very necessary, are bound to remain secondary and supplementary to large projects & cannot be a major component of water resource planning. However some opine that they see great potential in water harvesting and watershed development and are convinced that these activities undertaken in several thousands of locations all over the country, are capable of making a substantial contribution towards the future needs, while being environmentally benign, people centered and conducive to equity.

Thus a major push needs to be given to these activities. The need for large projects can be minimized (if not eliminated) and the environmental and socials and human impacts will be correspondingly reduced.


The total area of 2,22,236 Sq. Kms. of J & K State is drained by three Rivers namely Indus, Chenab and Jhelum. A small part of the state is drained by Ravi River in Katha District. The three rivers basins form three district regions of Ladakh and Kargil district, Jammu Division and Kashmir valley. Having Corresponding annual yield of 9.5 million 42.76 million and 90 lac Acre ft. respectively.

In Kashmir Division out of 3.40 lac hectares only 2.02 hectares one irrigated and in Jammu division out of 3.73 lac hectares only 0.88 lac hectares one irrigated. In case of Leh and Kargil District cultivation is done only in irrigated area of 17,950 hectares as due to scanty rains and lack of moisture nothing grows on unirrigated lands.

Indus Water Treaty Implications

As per Indus Water Treaty the basin wise limitations for maximum irrigation that can be done are: -
Indus: 70,000 acres
Jhelum 4,00,000 acres
Chenab 2,25,000 acres

However in case of Chenab there is limitation of 50,000 acres only from flow irrigation. The balance can be irrigated only if we construct conservation storages.

According to the study made by CWC, 84,753 hect. can be yet be irrigated in Chenab Basin and 26,000 hect. can be brought in irrigation in Leh District under the treaty. The entire cultivated area can be brought under irrigation within limits of Indus Treaty, if it were physically possible in Jhelum Basin.


Subsequently schemes with grass potential of 5288 hect. were reported taken up in Leh District, 1111 hect. in Kargil District, schemes for 2200 hect. were identified in Leh and 500 hect. in Kargil District. Even after this as provision of Indus treaty there still remained scope of irrigation of 18,000 hect. in Leh.

In Indus Water Treaty there is restriction on irrigation but there is no restriction on moisture conservation measures. In Leh and Kargil District there are 15 Nallah’s, which have surplus discharges in the month of July- August. Substantial areas of catchment of these Nallah’s could be made productive by constructing small and big tanks, where there are sites available. This surplus water could be made to seep into ground so that vegetable cover grows on these lands.


About 66% area is already irrigated. A large no. of lift irrigation projects have come up including some medium schemes like koil irrigation, Lete Pora Scheme, Tral Rajpora scheme, Besides there are orchards and Labroo lands not amenable to irrigation.

There are south facing slopes karewas etc. which are least productive. Massive moisture conservation on there slopes will make them productive; which if properly treated could be big source of fodder trees.
CHENAB BASIN: Conservation storage is necessary to irrigate the remaining areas because of Indus water treaty obligations. Maximum un irrigated areas are in Rajouri and Udhampore. The Doda district being highly mountainous may not be amenable to irrigation.

Surplus water of July, August and February and January can be stored to irrigate more areas which may envisage construction of small/ big tanks with small dams for which investigation can be taken up.


Long term perspective of utilization of water resources have to be:
i)To irrigate remaining areas within the Indus Water Treaty limits in Leh, Kargil, Jammu and Kashmir Divisions.
ii)To have water harvesting, moisture/ soil retention measures to make barren hill slops productive.
iii)To exploit identified hydro potential of 9935 M.W in entire State.

The tasks are gigantic and pose a challenge to the Engineers and planners of the time.

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