Pakistan approaches World Bank over Kishanganga dam in Kashmir
Islamabad: Pakistan approached the World Bank to complain that India despite the arbitrator’s pause period had completed the construction of the disputed $860-million Kishanganga hydropower project in Jammu and Kashmir.
Dawn newspaper, citing an unnamed official, reported on Thursday that power division of the Energy Ministry sent a fresh communiqué early this week to the World Bank, urging it to ensure that India abided by the Indus Waters Treaty — a 1960 pact that gives control over the water flowing from Beas, Ravi and Sutlej rivers to India.
The control over the water flowing in three western rivers — the Indus, the Chenab, and the Jhelum — all in Jammu and Kashmir — was given to Pakistan.
Islamabad had in the past reached out to the World Bank, the mediator between the two countries in the water treaty, to express its objection to the design and construction of the two projects — the 330 MW Kishanganga hydroelectric project and the 850 MW Ratle hydroelectric project — on the tributaries of the Indus in Jammu and Kashmir.
India says it has the right under the treaty to set up hydro power plants on the tributaries of the rivers flowing through its territory. But Pakistan fears this might reduce the water flow of the rivers into its territory.
The Pakistani official said there was no doubt that India had completed the Kishanganga project during the period the World Bank “paused” the process for constitution of a Court of Arbitration (COA) as requested by Pakistan in early 2016.
The Pakistani request was countered by India by calling for a neutral expert, Dawn reported.
Pakistan had called for resolution of disputes over Kishanganga project on the Neelum river and 850 MW Ratle hydropower project on the Chenab.
The daily said that Islamabad had received reports in August 2017 that New Delhi had completed the Kishanganga project as per the design that had been objected to by the former.
The new letter was sent to the World Bank after a Pakistani delegation of the Indus Waters Commission was not allowed to visit various controversial projects in India, including Kishanganga and Ratle schemes, it said.
In December 2016, the Bank announced that it had “paused” the process for either appointing a COA or a neutral expert and started mediation between the two countries. Since then the Bank arranged two rounds of talks between the two sides but the Indians kept on building the project, the daily said.
The last round of bank-facilitated and secretary-level talks between India and Pakistan was held in Washington in September but no consensus was reached.
In view of the inability of the parties to agree on the matter, the World Bank was reported to have called another round of discussions but failed to bring New Delhi to the negotiating table, the daily said.