Washington, March 27 (IANS) India and Pakistan will both benefit if they work together to peacefully share and conserve the vitally important waters of the Indus River Basin, according to a new report.
The study by researchers from Stimson Centre, a US-based think tank, the Observer Research Foundation in India and Sustainable Development Policy Institute in Pakistan, was produced by water experts from groups that formed the Indus Basin Working Group.
“Indian-Pakistani cooperation will result in more effective management of the basin’s water resources than confrontation between the two nations,” said David Michel, director of Stimson’s Environmental Security Programme and the lead Stimson researcher on the report.
Titled: “Connecting the Drops: An Indus Basin Roadmap for Cross-Border Water Research, Data Sharing, and Policy Coordination,” the report makes several recommendations to foster cooperation by India and Pakistan “to overcome overlapping socio-economic, environmental, and political pressures.”
The report says water shortages could hit the subcontinent in a few years because growing populations and increasing development are placing rising pressure on the Indus Basin, to the point that water removals from the Indus are outpacing natural rates of renewal.
Almost all of the basin’s renewable water resources are already allocated for various uses – with little or no spare capacity. Scientific and policy collaboration across national and disciplinary boundaries will be essential, according to the study.
Indus River is one of the most important water systems in the world. It supplies the needs of about 300 million people and nourishes the breadbaskets of the subcontinent, watering fields in India and Pakistan that constitute the most intensely irrigated area on Earth.
A growing number of studies foresee increasing water shortages in the Indus Basin because of population growth, the report notes.