LAHORE - Pakistan has raised serious objections against four hydropower projects being constructed by India on River Chenab in Occupied Kashmir, and has called for modification of their designs to meet the requirement of the agreement between the two countries.
The reservations about the designs were expressed by a Pakistani delegation that visited India on May 22 to inspect the sites of 850MW Ratle, 1,000MW Pakal Dul, 120MW Miyar and the 48MW Lower Kalnai hydropower projects.
Official sources informed that the delegation termed the projects design parameters a violation of the Indus Water Treaty.
They told TheNation that India was informed about the technical objections and that the Indus Water Commission Pakistan was seeking conclusive reply of the neighbouring country on the matter.
“Indus Water Commission of Pakistan wants clear and conclusive reply from India over its technical objections and doesn’t want to repeat the episode of years’ long useless negotiations between both the countries at Kishanganga and Baglihar dam projects,” said the sources.
It is learnt that India has started work on Ratle hydropower project of 850MW while contract negotiations with lower bidders on three other sites is underway.
“Pakistan had asked for changes in the design with especially reference to the spillways and poundage, which affects the intake location. Intake of water should go up, spillways are low in elevation and these needed to be taken up,” it was suggested.
Indus Water Commissioner Mirza Asif Baig, who headed the delegation which visited India, when contacted to comment on the matter confirmed that Pakistan has raised technical objections on the four sites and asked India to submit its conclusive reply on it.
Baig was hopeful in stating that both commissions have certain level of understanding that the water issues between Pakistan and India should resolve at commissions level. He hoped that India would positively react over Pakistan’s objections which he said were according to the treaty. To a question over India’s standing on the matter, the official replied: “Yes, Indian Commission on Indus Water is giving us justification for the projects but we are not agreeing on them.”
“If we fail to resolve the issue at commissions level then certainly we need government’s support. In case the talks at government level fails, we have the options for natural experts’ inspection and court of arbitration,” said Mirza Asif.
He stressed for the resolving of the issue at both commissions level, which he added was certainly helpful for both the countries.
It is worth mentioning here that the designs of these projects were provided by India more than a year ago. Pakistan has been asking for India to provide information of its projects at the planning state but India did not do so under the Indus Treaty.
Under the provision of the Indus Water Treaty 1960, the waters of the eastern rivers Sutlej, Beas and Ravi have been allocated to India and the western rivers Indus, Jhelum and Chenab have been allocated to Pakistan except for certain uses allowed to India which include generation of hydro power through run of the river plants.
Some water experts in Pakistan believe that India has carved out a plan to generate 32,000MW of electricity on Pakistani rivers and will have the capacity to regulate the water flows that are destined to reach Pakistan. It is being considered by them that proposed projects by India would drastically impact the flows in the Chenab which irrigates most of the land in Punjab province which is the food basket of the whole country.