Pak approaches World Bank over Kishanganga project: Report

Islamabad: Pakistan has informed the World Bank about India’s completing of the Kishanganga hydropower project during the bank’s “pause” period and has urged it to “recognize its responsibility” under the Indus Waters Treaty, a media report said Thursday.

Pakistan has approached the World Bank, the mediator between the two countries of the water distribution treaty, in the past and raised issues over Kishanganga and Ratle projects in Jammu and Kashmir.

It has been flagging concern over designs of India’s five hydroelectricity projects – Pakal Dul (1000 MW), Ratle (850 MW), Kishanganga (330 MW), Miyar (120 MW) and Lower Kalnai (48 MW) – being built/planned in the Indus river basin, contending these violate the treaty.

The power division of the energy ministry sent a fresh communique early this week to the bank’s vice president urging the international organisation to ensure that India abided by the provisions of the 1960 treaty while building the projects, a government official told Dawn newspaper.

The official said the letter had reached the bank’s head office in Washington and had been delivered to its vice president concerned as confirmed by Pakistan’s director to the bank, the report said.

The official said there was no doubt that India had completed the Kishanganga project during the period the World Bank “paused” the process for constitution of a Court of Arbitration (COA) as requested by Pakistan in early 2016.

The Pakistan’s request was countered by India by calling for a neutral expert.

Pakistan had called for resolution of disputes over Kishanganga project on the Neelum river and Ratle hydropower project on the Chenab.

Asked about the government’s next move, the official said the authorities could not just sit back and had to take the matter to its logical conclusion.

Pakistan had received reports in August last year that New Delhi had completed the Kishanganga project as per the design that had been objected by Islamabad, the report said.

The letter was sent to the World Bank after a Pakistani delegation of the Indus Waters Commission was not allowed to visit various projects in India, including Kishanganga and Ratle schemes, it said.

Pakistan has raised objections over the design of the hydel project in Jammu and Kashmir, saying it is not in line with the criteria laid down under the Indus Water Treaty between the two countries.

India has, however, asserted the project design is “well within parameters” of the treaty and urged the bank to appoint a neutral expert.

In December 2016, the bank had announced that it had “paused” the process for either appointing a COA or a neutral expert and started mediation between the two countries on how to advance and develop consensus in the light of the treaty on the mechanism for resolution of faulty designs of the two projects.

Since then, the bank has arranged two rounds of talks between the two sides but the Indians kept on building the project, the report alleged.

The last round of bank-facilitated and secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan were held in Washington in September that ended in disappointment for Pakistan, it said.

In view of the inability of the parties to agree on whether a COA or a neutral expert is the way forward, the World Bank is reported to have called another round of discussions to minimise the differences but failed to bring New Delhi to the negotiating table.

Under the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty, the waters of the eastern rivers the Sutlej, Beas and Ravi had been allocated to India and that of the western rivers the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab to Pakistan except for certain non-consumptive uses. (PTI)

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