Coming down heavily on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for stating that the waters of the Indus River belong to India and cannot be allowed to go to Pakistan, the Communist Party of India (CPI) on 26 November said the former should not raise the issue of water sharing in such a casual manner.
It described it as a serious issue because there are reverts and riparian countries do have certain rights to share the water resources available.
CPI national secretary D. Raja told ANI, "Raising a water issue with Pakistan is a serious matter and we should have some kind of national consensus and understanding on such matters. The Prime Minister should take the country into confidence; Parliament into confidence; political parties into confidence, when he makes certain observations on such issues that relate other countries also."
"As India and Pakistan have a water sharing issue, there is a need to engage both sides for settling down the water-sharing arrangements. I do not know why the Prime Minister raised this issue; it is for him to explain," said Raja.
Criticising the Prime Minister for making speeches outside when Parliament is in session, the CPI national secretary said, "Parliament is in session, but the Prime Minister does not speak on policy matters in either of the Houses and makes speeches outside Parliament."
Sounding the poll bugle in Punjab, which will go to assembly polls in 2017, Prime Minister Modi on 25 November asserted that the welfare of farmers was his main concern and vowed that his government would ensure that the Indus River, which is in dispute with Pakistan, will flow again in the state and provide relief to farmers.
Speaking at the foundation ceremony of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Bhatinda, the Prime Minster asserted that the river belongs only to India. "The fields of our farmers must have adequate water. Water that belongs to India cannot be allowed to go to Pakistan. The government will do everything to give enough water to our farmers," he said.
He, however, justified that this was not a political gimmick to seek votes rather concerned about the welfare of the farmers. "For me elections do not matter. I am more concerned about the welfare of the farmers," Prime Minister Modi said.
In the wake of the deadly Uri attack in September, Prime Minister Modi had also held meetings with the Water Resources officials, External Affairs Ministries and the PMO to discuss the government's options on the India-Pakistan Indus Waters Treaty.
Taking stock of the 56-year old Indus Water Treaty on September 26, Prime Minister Modi had said "blood and water cannot flow at the same time".
The meeting chaired by Prime Minister Modi decided that India would expedite construction on three dams on the Chenab River, named Pakul Dul, Sawalkot and Bursar.
According to sources, India will utilise "legal rights in the treaty to the fullest" and the construction on the Tulbul navigation project, the work on which was suspended in 2007, would also be reviewed.
India would use the potential of 18,000 megawatt of power from the western rivers under Indus Water Treaty, while an inter-ministerial task force for the Indian rights would be formed for western rivers under the treaty, said sources on the Prime Minister-Water Resources Ministry meet.
NSA Ajit Doval, Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Nripendra Mishra, Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar, Water Resources Secretary Shashi Sekhar and other senior officials briefed Prime Minister Modi on the Indus Water Treaty.
The treaty was inked in 1960 by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and then Pakistan President Ayub Khan, which allocates 80 percent of water to Pakistan from the six-river Indus Water System, including Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum that flows from India to Pakistan.
The treaty, brokered by the World Bank, is often considered to be one-sided and there has been growing clamour to relook at it. The pact has survived wars and phases of frosty ties between India and Pakistan.