ISLAMABAD: Amid objections raised by Pakistan to about a dozen hydropower projects on western rivers, India is reported to have agreed to provide additional data and try to address the concerns.

The three-day meeting between the two commissioners of Permanent Commission on Indus Waters (PCIW) completed discussions on all agenda items on Wednesday and would finalise minutes of the huddle on Thursday. The talks were held in very cordial environment, a participant said.

Pakistan’s Commissioner for Indus Waters Mehr Ali Shah led the Pakistani side comprising officials of the Water and Power Development Authority, Meteorological Department, Punjab Irrigation, Federal Flood Commission, Nespak and the foreign affairs ministry. The India side was led by its commissioner Pradeep Kumar Saxena.

Pakistan had already raised objections over 10 hydropower projects, nine of them in small power project category of 25MW and below. On these smaller projects, India had shared some data that was unacceptable to Islamabad because of gaps in the manner and technical charts some of them were illegible. These projects included Kulan Ramwari, Kalaroos-II, Tamasha Hydro, Baltikulan, Darbuk Shyok, Nummu Chilling, Kargil Hunderman, Phagla and Mandi HEP.

Commissioners of Permanent Commission on Indus Waters will finalise minutes of the three-day meeting today

The Indian side explained that the provincial and state governments normally lacked in maintaining design and engineering details in the matter of small projects but would get back to the relevant institutions and agencies to update documents as required under the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty.

Pakistan provided a list of 15-20 additional objections to these projects to be addressed by India.

Islamabad has raised five major objections to 624MW Kiru and 48MW Lower Kalnai projects which, it believed, violated the 1960 treaty. These pertained to free board, intake, spillway, pondage and low-level outlet.

The Indian side agreed to examine the objections with an open mind. Pakistan insisted these could not be allowed to prolong unless a time frame was set. India agreed to substantiate its viewpoint on the objections with additional data and convey its response within two weeks. It also agreed to arrange a tour by the Pakistani team within the current year.

Published in Dawn, March 3rd, 2022

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