Pakistan finalises case for international arbitration

Construction of Kishanganga, Ratle dams

LAHORE - Pakistan has finalised its case against India over construction of 330MW Kishanganga Hydroelectric Project (KHEP) and 850MW Ratle Hydroelectric Plant (RHEP) in occupied Jammu & Kashmir, and is ready to put it for international arbitration.
The authorities however are yet to decide whether the case against the controversial projects should be put before neutral experts to be selected by mutual consent of two water commissioners or Hague-based permanent court of arbitration.
Indus Water Commissioner Mirza Asif Baig, talking to TheNation confirmed the case would ‘soon’ be filed for settlement. The Indus Water Commissioner of Pakistan has already declared that the talks on the said two projects with Indian Water Commissioner have failed to arrive at any conclusion.
Despite serious objections on the design, the Pakistani side however is so far willing to resume the talks on three other controversial projects which the neighbouring country is building on River Chenab in occupied valley. These are: 1,000MW Pakal Dul, 120MW Miyar and 48MW Lower Kalnai hydropower projects.
A government official mentioning India’s past record of being inflexible viewed that Pakistan at last would have to seek international arbitration on the rest of three projects too. The Pakistan commissioner has raised serious objections on the design of all these five projects and termed them a gross violation of Indus Water Treaty.
Kishanganga project is designed to divert water from the Kishanganga River to a power plant in the River Jhelum basin. It is located 5km north of Bandipore in occupied Kashmir. India started construction on the project in 2007 and it is expected to be completed in 2016 while the work on Ratle project at River Chenab has also been started by India.
In 2010, Pakistan appealed to Hague’s court against the construction of KHEP and in February 2013, Hague ruled that India could divert a minimum of water for their project. The court gave its final award on December 20, 2013, wherein it allowed India to go ahead with the construction of the dam. The final award specifies that 9m3/s of natural flow of water must be maintained in Kishanganga River at all times to maintain the environment downstream.
“We have objection on the depth of spillways of the Kishanganga dam and other dams at the Chenab River, as India cannot do this under the Indus Water Treaty,” said sources.
India is violating the treaty and terms specified by the court’s verdict in the construction of the Kishanganga dam, and, therefore, Pakistan has decided to go for international arbitration on the dam and also on Ratle project, they added. The officials sources believe the objections raised by Pakistan are logical in the light of the treaty and they are hopeful of winning the case against India.
They say: Apart from adverse impact to be caused by Kishanganga dam on Pakistan’s irrigation system and energy sector schemes, it would have devastating effect on biodiversity and ecosystem in Neelum Valley. The volume of water in the part of river on the India-held side is 10 times higher than that in Azad Jammu and Kashmir territory. Therefore, its diversion will wreck havoc on the environment of the valley.”
Pakistan had been raising objections on Indian projects since they were started by the neighbouring country. However, India has no intention to remove Islamabad’s reservations by modifying the designs of the projects rather it finalised bidding of three power projects and work is in progress on the fourth one – Ratle Hydropower Project. The Kishanganga project is almost complete. India is using delaying tactics in talks with Pakistan as it had done during the construction of Baglihar Dam.
Under the provisions of the Indus Water Treaty 1960, the waters of the eastern rivers, Sutlej, Beas and Ravi, had been allocated to India and the western rivers, Indus, Jhelum and Chenab, to Pakistan except for certain uses allowed to India which included generation of hydropower but without altering the water flow.
Some water experts in Pakistan believe that India has carved out a plan to generate 32,000MW electricity on the 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 the proposed projects of India would drastically impact the water flows in the Chenab which irrigates most of the land in Pakistani Punjab, the food basket of the country.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt