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— File Photo

ISLAMABAD: The adviser to prime minister on water and agriculture has said that India has assumed an aggressive posture and that “some believe it intends to use water as a weapon”.

Criticising India for working on power projects “when and where it pleases and in direct violation” of the Indus Waters Treaty, Kamal Majidullah said it had been engaging Pakistan in bilateral talks on disputed projects to cause delays and ultimately get what it wanted.

Speaking at a news conference on Friday about the court of arbitration’s partial award delivered last month, he said the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) had made it clear that India would have no right to store water in any run-of-the-river project on the western rivers.

“The decision is 110 per cent in the favour of Pakistan over the controversial Kishanganga hydropower project,” he said.

“It sets things right and is an important decision that guarantees Pakistan’s access to water.”

He said India planned to build 150 power projects in Jammu and Kashmir, including 47 run-of-the-river projects of 50MW each.

“These projects violate the treaty and adversely affect Pakistan’s fundamental rights under the pact,” he said.

“Now, India will have no right to storage in run-of-the-river projects and such projects in future will have to be built according to a design to be given by the court of arbitration.”

He said the court would decide on minimum flows on the western rivers in December after studying data on river flows from both countries.

The adviser said the PCA award was a victory for Pakistan over three of the four points; restricting India to maintain minimum flow in Kishanganga/Neelum river, measures to curb environmental degradation in the wake of the project and issues related to diversion of water.

The Hague-based PCA in its partial award on Feb 18 had maintained that the Kishanganga Hydro-Electric Project (KHEP) constituted a run-of-river plant and that under the treaty of 1960, India might divert water from the Kishanganga/ Neelum River for power generation by the KHEP in the manner envisaged.

However, it observed, when operating the KHEP, India was under an obligation to maintain a minimum flow of water in the Kishanganga/ Neelum River, at a rate to be determined by the court in the final award.

Mr Majidullah said the court had ruled in Pakistan’s favour on the issue of whether India could deplete the reservoir level of a run-of-the-river project below dead storage level.

“The court determined that the treaty does not allow reduction of water below the dead storage level — except in the case of an unforeseen emergency,” he added.

This would ensure that Pakistan received uninterrupted supplies on the western rivers, Mr Majidullah said.

However, the ruling does not apply to the plants already in operation or under construction whose designs have been communicated by India and not objected to by Pakistan.

Mr Majidullah also criticised Pakistani officials for their uncaring approach and said: “Officials who dealt with the controversial hydropower project in the past caused heavy loss to national interest due to their delaying tactics.”

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