LAHORE: Pakistan is likely to raise objections over the construction of 10 new hydropower projects by India at the annual meeting of the Permanent Commission on Indus Waters (PCIW) scheduled for March 1-3 in Islamabad.

A 10-member delegation, headed by the Indian Commissioner for Indus Waters, arrived here via Wagah border on Monday to attend the annual PCIW meeting being organised by the office of Pakistan’s Commissioner for Indus Waters under obligations of the Indus Water Treaty-1960.

“The Indian delegation entered the country via Wagah border (Lahore) and then reached Islamabad. The delegation, headed by Indian Commissioner P.K. Saxena, includes three female officers,” a senior official of the office of Pakistan’s Commissioner for Indus Waters told Dawn.

10-member Indian delegation arrives to attend annual PCIW meeting in Islamabad

Besides objections already under discussions over 1,000MW Pakal Dul and 48MW Lower Kalnai hydropower projects, Pakistan has also expressed concern over the construction of 10 hydroelectric power projects — Durbuk Shyok, Nimu Chilling, Kiru, Tamasha, Kalaroos-II, Baltikulan Small, Kargil Hunderman, Phagla, Kulan Ramwari and Mandi.

“Therefore, all these projects have been made part of the PCIW meeting during which the Pakistani Indus water commission’s team, headed by Syed Muhammad Mehr Ali Shah, will reiterate its objections and seek reply/justification from the visiting Indian delegation,” explained the official.

“Moreover, both countries will also resume talks on Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai projects,” he added.

The official said the participants are set to discuss arrangements regarding communication of advance information about flood flows during the current season, maintenance of free flow of water into Sutlej river and finalisation of future programmes, meetings and tours and inspections.

The participants, under the agenda items of the meeting, will also finalise and sign record of the last PCIW meeting.

“There is no plan for any field visit/inspection by the Indian delegation members during their stay in Pakistan as they have come to participate in the meeting only,” the official maintained.

The Indian delegation’s visit was earlier scheduled for mid-January, but it was postponed at the request of India due to Covid-related restrictions.

Since annual meetings, under the treaty, are to be held before March 31 each year, alternately in the two countries, the Pakistani delegation had paid a two-day visit to New Delhi from March 23 to 24 last year.

During the meeting, the participants discussed Pakistan’s objections to the designs of Pakal Dul, Lower Kalnai and other hydroelectric projects, including 19MW Durbuk and 24MW Nimu-Chilling plants, and other data-related issues.

The Indian side had shared some information/documents related to 1,000MW Pakal Dul and 48MW Lower Kalnai hydropower projects with Pakistan.

It had agreed on getting the site of the controversial Kishan Ganga hydropower project inspected by Pakistani experts.

Published in Dawn, March 1st, 2022

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