Updated Sep 04, 2018 07:14am

India agrees to allow Pakistan to inspect Kishanganga project

Khalid Hasnain

LAHORE: India has agreed to allow Pakistan to inspect the projects in the Jhelum basin, including Kishanganga hydroelectric project, in the near future and Islamabad will allow New Delhi to carry out inspection of the Kotri barrage over the Indus under Article VIII (4) (c) of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT), it has been learnt.

According to the minutes of the 115th meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission held between the two countries from Aug 29 to 30 in Lahore, “Pakistan also urged India to arrange for the Special Tour of Inspection of the projects in Jhelum basin including Kishanganga HEP which is pending since 2014, on which ICIW (India’s Commissioner for Indus Waters) gave his assurance to arrange the same promptly.”

During the meeting, the Pakistani and Indian authorities were unanimous about strengthening the role of the Permanent Indus Commission. Islamabad also highlighted the need and asked New Delhi to share the information about potential projects at the planning stage for examination. “In this way any objections (if raised by Pakistan) can be addressed in the design at the early stage of planning instead of debating with India at belated stage when practically incorporating the requisite changes becomes a challenge.”

Decision also reached in recent water talks to let Indian team visit Kotri barrage on Indus

In order to converge on the objections raised by Pakistan, both sides reiterated their stance and endeavoured to resolve the issues. In this regard both sides agreed to exchange the detailed basis of adopting various design parameters for both 48MW Lower Kalnai and 1000MW Pakal Dul HEPs at the Chenab River. “During the meeting both the sides agreed to conduct the General Tours of Inspection which could not be conducted since 2014.

“In this regard first PCIW (Pakistani Commissioner for Indus Waters) will visit the Chenab basin in the last week of September 2018 followed by the tour of ICIW to the Kotri barrage in the Lower Indus, according to Article VIII (4) (c),” the document reveals.

In the meeting, which was held under Article VIII (5) of the IWT, both sides also agreed to arrange the next meeting of the commission soon after the tour of inspection on both sides to discuss and endeavour to address Pakistan’s objections on Lower Kalnai and Pakal Dul.

Pakistan has already approached the World Bank and sought referring the case to International Court of Arbitration (ICA). However, India, on the other hand, wants the dispute decided by the neutral experts. In June, this year, World Bank had reportedly asked Pakistan to accept India’s demand of a ‘neutral expert’ and stand down from pursuing its stand of referring the dispute to the ICA. Pakistan had also raised concerns over the inauguration of the Kishanganga hydropower plant by India during talks with the World Bank in Washington.

“Since the talks between the two countries have been restored, Pakistani team may inspect the Kishanganga project on the eve of the next meeting of the permanent commission for the Indus waters in India or before this,” a senior official told Dawn on Monday.

In reply to a question, he said India had no objection on the Kotri barrage in the lower Indus. “Their (Indian experts) visit to Pakistan will be after ending our experts’ inspection of the Lower Kalnai and Pakal Dul projects scheduled by end of this month,” the official said. “The Indian experts’ visit / inspection of the Kotri barrage is sort of routine one, as they have no objection or concerns in this regard. It is a part of the compilation and exchange of the data by the two countries related to rivers’ flow, water storage, releases, etc,” he added.

Published in Dawn, September 4th, 2018

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