New Delhi: India on Thursday asked the World Bank to allow a neutral expert to look into a dispute with Pakistan over sharing of river waters under the 1960 Indus Water Treaty as well plans by India to construct two hydel power projects.
India’s position was conveyed at a meeting in New Delhi between World Bank representative Ian H Solomon and senior officials of external affairs and water resources ministries.
Solomon was in New Delhi as part of the World Bank’s efforts to break a deadlock between the two neighbours on the Kishenganga and Ratle projects that India plans to proceed with in Jammu and Kashmir.
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In the meeting, the Indian delegation led by joint secretary in charge of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan in the foreign ministry, Gopal Baglay, gave a presentation on the two projects and said that a neutral expert look into the issues as objections raised by Pakistan on technical issues, a person familiar with the developments said.
India’s view that the design of the projects do not violate the India-Pakistan Indus Water Treaty (IWT) was very specifically conveyed, the person cited above said.
Solomon’s visit comes after India made its strong objections known after the World Bank decided to set up a Court of Arbitration (CoA) to settle the disputes following Pakistan raising its opposition to India’s plans to construct two hydel power projects as well as agreed to appoint a neutral expert as sought by India. The World Bank had then said that it would stop the two parallel processes as it tries to sort out the issue. Under the IWT, signed by India and Pakistan in 1960, the World Bank has a specific role of dispute resolution between the two countries.
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The differences between India and Pakistan under the treaty concern the Kishenganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts) hydroelectric power plants. The power plants are being built by India on the Kishenganga and Chenab rivers, respectively.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi directed the government to step up the exploitation of India’s share of water in the Indus Water Treaty, and called off India’s participation in meetings of Indus water commissioners on 27 September. This was in response to the 18 September Uri terrorist attack.
Additionally, it was then decided that the meetings of Indus water commissioners, meant to iron out disputes, would be held “only in an atmosphere free of terror."
The sharing of water from the Indus is governed by the Indus Water Treaty. Signed by India and Pakistan in 1960, it lays down the framework for sharing the waters from the Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum rivers.
It specifies that waters from the three western rivers—Indus, Jhelum and Chenab—are reserved for Pakistan, while those from the three eastern rivers—Ravi, Sutlej and Beas—are for India.
The treaty also sets out a process for resolving so-called “questions", “differences" and “disputes" that may arise between the two parties.