by Elton Gomes
India and Pakistan will resume talks over several aspects of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) in Lahore on Wednesday. The meeting is set to be the first time where both countries meet since Prime Minister Imran Khan took office.
India’s Indus Water Commissioner P.K. Saxena will be in Islamabad to begin the two-day discussions with his Pakistani counterpart Syed Mehr Ali Shah, a government official told Pakistani newspaper Dawn, PTI reported.
The Pakistan-India Permanent Indus Commission last met in March in New Delhi, during which both parties exchanged details regarding water flow and the quantum of water being used under the IWT.
During the two-day meet, Pakistan will likely reiterate on its objections over two water storage and hydropower projects being built by India. The government official quoted by Dawn said that Pakistan is likely to raise concerns over 1000 megawatts Pakal Dul and 48 megawatts Lower Kalnai hydroelectric projects on the Chenab river.
The talks could also see both India and Pakistan finalising a schedule of future meetings of the Permanent Indus Commission and visits of the teams of the Indus commissioners. The government official stated that Pakistan and India were required to meet at least twice a year. However, Pakistan had been facing problems in arranging meetings and visits. The session could also discuss ways and means for timely and smooth sharing of hydrological data on shared rivers.
Pakistan alleges violations by India
In May 2018, Dawn reported that Pakistan engaged the World Bank for arbitration in settling the water dispute with India, after it had opened a run-of-the-river hydroelectric scheme for harnessing the flow of the Neelum River.
Pakistan also alleged that India has violated the IWT and took the issue up with the World Bank. Led by Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali, the Pakistani delegation met with World Bank officials, a few days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 330 megawatt Kishanganga hydroelectric project in Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office had raised concerns over the inauguration of the hydroelectric project, and said that inauguration without resolving the dispute can be considered equivalent to violation of the IWT. Furthermore, Islamabad had been raising objections with regards to the design of the project, saying that it does not conform to the criteria under the IWT. However, India said that the project design was within the boundaries of the treaty.
Taking note of the importance of the IWT, an official from the World Bank said, “The Indus Waters Treaty is a profoundly important international agreement that provides an essential cooperative framework for India and Pakistan to address current and future challenges of effect .. effective water management to meet human needs and achieve development goals,” PTI reported.
In 2013, the Hague-based International Court of Arbitration permitted India to go ahead with the construction of the Kishanganga project in north Kashmir and supported India’s right under the IWT to divert water from the Kishanganga to generate power in Jammu and Kashmir. However, the international court decided that India will release a minimum flow of nine cubic metres per second into the Kishanganga river at all times in an attempt to maintain environmental flows.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius.
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