Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday announced that India has decided to stop its share of water that used to flow to Pakistan. The moves comes amid strained ties between the two countries in the aftermath of last week’s terror attack in Jammu and Kashmir’s Pulwama, in which 40 CRPF personnel were killed. Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed claimed responsibility for the attack.

“Our government has decided to stop our share of water which used to flow to Pakistan,” Gadkari said in a tweet. “We will divert water from eastern rivers and supply it to our people in Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab. The construction of dam has started at Shahpur-Kandi on Ravi river.”

The Union minister for water resources said the Ujh dam project will store India’s share of water for use in Jammu and Kashmir and the balance water will flow from 2nd Ravi-BEAS Link to provide water to other basin states. The projects have been declared national projects, he added.

However, soon after Gadkari’s statement, a Water Resources ministry official clarified that this was not a new decision and that the minister was “simply reiterating” what he has always said. “He is talking about diverting India’s share of Indus water which was going to Pakistan – and he has always been saying this as you all know,” Neeta Prasad, additional director general of Water Resource, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, told ANI.

At an event in Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat on Wednesday, Gadkari had said that the government was working on a project to divert water from the rivers flowing into Pakistan to ensure more water is available for Indian states.

“After formation of India and Pakistan, the countries got the right to use waters in three rivers each,” he had said, according to ANI. “The water from our three rivers is going to Pakistan. Now, we are planning to build a project and divert the water from these three rivers into Yamuna river. Once this happens, Yamuna will have more water.”

The Indus Waters Treaty, drawn up in September 1960 and brokered by the World Bank, lays down rules for how the water of the Indus and its tributaries that flow in both the countries will be used. According to the pact, India controls Beas, Ravi and Sutlej, while Pakistan controls Indus, Chenab and Jhelum.

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