India Opens Flood Gates

Many observers in Pakistan claim that the recent floods there have been worsened by India’s decision to release water from the Harike Headworks and Hussainiwala Headworks.

On Sunday 18th August India decided to release 170,000 cusecs water from the Harike Headworks, on the Sutlej River in the Tarn Taran Sahib district of the Punjab state in India. Earlier, India relased 84,000 cusecs water from Hussainiwala Headworks in Firozpur, Punjab, India.

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It is difficult to get a clear picture of the situation, in particular as the decision to release the water has been used by some political activists to stir up further conflict between the neighbouring nations, as discussed in this article in India Today.

Some in Pakistan accused India of releasing the water without warning. This has since been refuted by
Indus water commissioner Mirza Asif Ali Baig. According to an article in The Nation, through the Indus Water Treaty, India is bound to inform Pakistan before unloading excessive water in its rivers. Mirza Asif Ali Baig confirmed that Pakistan had indeed been informed of both the timing and amount of water to be released. The information sent by India is passed on to the Punjab Irrigation Department which measures the amount of water coming from the other side, estimates the projected loss and advises precautionary measures.

So why did India release all this water into the already swollen rivers of a Pakistan suffering from severe floods? India insist the action was necessary since large parts of the Indian Punjab state are also suffering from severe flooding, as discussed in this article by The Hindustan Times.

For more information about the background of the Indus Water treaty and water security in India and Pakistan, see the Security Research Review article here. For more about the rivers and headworks in Punjab, india, see the government site here.