ISLAMABAD, May 16: The annual meeting of the Indus Water Commissioners of Pakistan and India has been convened by the Indian Commissioner in New Delhi from May 28 to 31, official sources said on Friday.

The Indian Commissioner for Indus Waters conveyed these dates to his Pakistani counterpart earlier this week.

The communication came on the heels of a two-week notice issued by Pakistan last week requiring India to take a decision on the appointment of a neutral expert to resolve the Baglihar project dispute.

Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters Syed Jamaat Ali Shah will lead Pakistan’s delegation to India, which will include technical experts and a legal adviser from the foreign office.

Pakistan had sought dates for the meeting of the Permanent Commission on Indus Commission (PCIW) from India through a written communication about two weeks back. The last regular meeting of the commission was held in New Delhi in 2002 from May 30 to June 1.

The PCIW meets once every year to exchange data on water and weather-related issues.

A special meeting of the PCIW was held here early February on Pakistan’s request. The special session was convened to address Pakistan’s reservations on the Baglihar hydroelectric project being constructed by India on Chenab River.

However, talks failed and Islamabad decided to seek intervention of neutral experts for arbitration of the dispute.

The Indian officials’ refusal to change the project design as proposed by the Pakistan experts led to the breakdown of talks between the two sides.

Pakistan’s position has been that the 450MW Baglihar power project design is in violation of the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty.

Pakistan’s main concern is that the gated spillways provided for in the Baglihar project would give India the capability to manipulate the flow of water to Pakistan’s disadvantage. Technical experts believe this structure would allow India to increase its storage capacity while reducing Chenab waters from 8,000 to 7,000 cusec per day in Pakistan.

The bilateral water-sharing Indus Water Treaty gives both countries the third party option in case of a deadlock over any issue. Article IX of the Treaty provides for settling disputes through neutral observers or arbitration if they cannot be resolved between the two commissioners.

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