Relations between the Asian sub-continent’s two nuclear-armed neighbours may worsen with a decision by India to greatly increase its exploitation of three strategic rivers flowing into Pakistan for hydroelectric production.
Existing hydro installations along the Indian headwaters of the Chenab, Jhelum, and Indus rivers generate about 3,000 megawatts of electricity, Reuters reports. On Monday, however, the Indian cabinet discussed adding new reservoirs to produce as much as 15,000 additional megawatts.
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“We want to see that all these (hydropower) projects are put on a really fast-track basis,” a source in the Indian government told Reuters.
Although India insists its additional exploitation of the rivers will comply with a water-sharing agreement it signed with Pakistan in 1960, Reuters notes its “ambitious irrigation plans and construction of thousands of upstream dams has continued to annoy Pakistan, which depends on snow-fed Himalayan rivers for everything from drinking water to agriculture.”
A record drought seared the region earlier this year, raising concerns for its water supply. The long-standing tension between the two countries was fanned again by an attack on an Indian military post in Kashmir on September 18, blamed by the government in New Delhi on Pakistan, which also claims the disputed region.