Pakistan’s chairman of the Indus Water Commission, and the head of the Indian organization that operates the Baglihar dam on the Chenab river, have both debunked reports in a section of the Pakistan media, which had alleged that current floods in Pakistan have been worsened because Indian authorities opened the gates of the Baglihar dam.
The Chenab flows into Pakistan downstream of the Baglihar project site in India. It is a major river of the transboundary Indus basin, over which India and Pakistan entered into the Indus Water Treaty in 1960.
Asked if it was true that floods in the Pakistan stretch of the Chenab were due to release of water from the Baglihar dam in India, Mirza Asif Baig – chairman of the Indus Water Commission – told thethirdpole.net, “No, these floods are caused by rainfall in the basin of the Chenab river.”
The Indus Water Commission – with co-chairs from Pakistan and India – looks after the implementation of the Indus Water Treaty.
A similar reaction came from India.
“Where is the question of opening the dam gates in a run of the river hydroelectric project,” Mehraj Ahmad Kakroo, Managing Director of Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation (JKSPDC), told thethirdpole.net when asked to react to the media reports. “The gates are not closed at all. Except in mid-summer when the water flow is at its minimum, they are kept open all the time.”
JKSPDC runs the Baglihar hydroelectric project, of which the first two phases have been built, and are generating power. Kakroo, the head of the corporation, said on the morning of September 6, “We are constantly monitoring the water flow in the Chenab at the dam site. The average flow at this time of the year (early September) is 2,400 cumec (cubic metres per second). Due to the heavy rain, the flow has now gone up to 3,200 cumec, but that is not enough to cause flooding downstream.”
Both upstream India and downstream Pakistan are facing a serious flood situation in the Indus basin, due to heavy rain in the Himalayan region from September 4.
Speaking to thethirdpole.net on the evening of September 5, Mohammad Riaz, a senior official in the Pakistan Meteorological Department, also categorically denied that any water released by India had been the cause of any flooding in Pakistan. Weather experts in Pakistan have said the flooding has been due to heavy rainfall.