Islamabad declares water war on people of PoK. By Farooq Ganderbali

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Pakistan has declared a water war on the people of Pakistan-occupied-Kashmir (PoK) by diverting the waters of the Neelum River to Punjab province. Punjab remains Pakistan's pampered and favoured province and Islamabad is depriving the people of Muzaffarabad from their water lifeline - Neelum River - through an elaborate scheme, which has changed the flow of the fresh water from the mountains to Punjab province and in the process drying up the River even in the middle of the monsoon season.

Protests are taking place all across Muzaffarabad against this latest move by Islamabad to take away even the most basic right from the Kashmiri people who live under its occupation. The water level in the river has declined drastically and the water available is only sewage water, whereas, the actual water has been diverted towards Punjab.

The politicians are paying no attention on the issue and it is the common people in PoK who demand that actual flow of the river water should be maintained. They have threatened to launch a protest to protect the river for their coming generations. The river passing through Muzaffarabad now appears as a storm water drain filled with sewage waste and silt as the water from the mountains has been diverted by Islamabad towards Punjab province.

Residents of Muzaffarabad fear that they are now confronted with a bigger challenge of having virtually no water supply and say what is happening to them is nothing short of a water war. It is important for people of PoK to launch a movement which can expose the misdeeds of Islamabad to the world. With the diversion of waters and construction of Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project, there are chances of spreading of diseases because of pollution.

With the production of electricity from Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project, the people of Pakistan will get all benefits. What will people of PoK get in return of Rs 50 billion Islamabad will be earning out of this project. Even the monsoon waters have not been able to charge the Neelum River as the water from the catchment areas has also been diverted to Punjab.

The Indus River originates in the Tibetan plateau, making its 3,200km journey southwards along the entire length of Pakistan, before emptying into the Arabian Sea. The river basin is divided between Pakistan, which has about 60 per cent of the catchment area, India with about 20 per cent, Afghanistan with 5 per cent and around 15 per cent in Tibet.

The Indus has five main tributaries. The Jhelum, the largest of these, originates in the Valley of Kashmir. The Chenab, a second tributary, flows through the Jammu region of the state of Jammu and Kashmir before entering the Indian state of Punjab. The remaining three tributaries (Ravi, Sutlej and Beas) either originate or flow through India's state of Himachal before entering Indian Punjab.

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