Pakistan- India relations: water

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Kishanganga dam

2018: WB advises Pakistan to not pursue dispute at ICA

Omer Farooq Khan, June 5, 2018: The Times of India


World Bank had asked Pakistan to stop pursuing the Kishanganga dam dispute in the International Court of Arbitration

The World Bank had advised the Pak govt to accept India’s offer of appointing a “neutral expert” to resolve the dispute

While Pak wants the dispute to be referred to ICA, India describes it an issue of bilateral differences which can be solved by experts

The World Bank (WB) has asked Pakistan to stop pursuing the Kishanganga dam dispute in the International Court of Arbitration (ICA) and instead accept India’s offer of appointing a “neutral expert”.

The Pakistani daily Dawn reported on Tuesday that the World Bank president Jim Yong Kim had last week advised the government to not take the matter to the ICA. Incidentally, the bank had on November 10, 2016 even picked a US chief justice, the rector of Imperial College, London, and the WB president to appoint a chairman of the court to resolve the dispute over the dam.

Pakistan had opposed the construction of Kishanganga dam + , considering it a violation of a World Bank-mediated treaty on the sharing of waters from the Indus and its tributaries. New Delhi believes that the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) allows it to build ‘run-of-river’ hydel projects that do not change the course of the river and do not deplete the water level downstream.

Islamabad, however, disputes New Delhi’s interpretation, arguing that the Kishanganga project not only violates the course of the river but also depletes its water level. While Pakistan wants the dispute to be referred to the ICA, India describes it an issue of bilateral differences over the design of the dam which can be addressed by some neutral experts.

“Pakistan believed that acceding to India’s proposal of referring the dispute to neutral experts or withdrawing from its stand would mean closing the doors of arbitration and surrendering its right of raising disputes before international courts. It will become a precedent and every time a dispute emerges between Pakistan and India, the latter will always opt for dispute resolution through neutral experts,” the report said, quoting a source privy to the development.

In December 2016, the WB president had informed the then Pakistani finance minister Ishaq Dar through a letter that he had decided to “pause” the process of appointing the ICA chairman as well as the neutral expert.

At this, Dar had lodged a strong protest with the WB and had asked the bank to play its due role in the matter.

Pakistan believes that on the one hand the WB has tied its hands from raising the dispute at the ICA, and on the other, it has not blocked the Indian effort to complete the construction of the dam.

In February 2017, the WB further extended its halt until the secretary-level talks between the two countries bore some fruit. Subsequently, four rounds of talks were held in February, April, July and September in Washington in which the bank was willing to appoint an international court to pick between the two options. “But India did not accept it,” the source said. The WB even declined Pakistan’s plea on May 22, 2018.


2019/ India ends goodwill gesture, stops sharing hydrological data

Vishwa Mohan, India ends goodwill gesture, stops sharing hydrological data with Pak, August 22, 2019: The Times of India

Will Provide Info Only As Per Indus Pact

Taking the offensive, India has refused to renew its 1989 agreement of sharing hydrological data during flood season with Pakistan and told the neighbour that it would only provide information on “extraordinary discharges and flood flows”.

The agreement, a result of an earlier India’s goodwill gesture, was renewed every year. But the Indian position has changed, coinciding with heightened tensions over the abrogation of Jammu & Kashmir’s special status and the bifurcation of the state into two Union Territories. “This agreement was not renewed in the current year by us,” P K Saxena, Indian Commissioner for Indus Waters, told TOI on Wednesday. The decision, however, has nothing to do with the Indus Water Treaty signed between India and Pakistan in 1960 for sharing waters of the Indus system. “India as a responsible nation is committed to the provisions of the IWT,” said Saxena.

Referring to the 1989 agreement to share hydrological data during flood season between July 1 to October 10, he said, “This was the arrangement beyond the IWT provisions as a gesture of goodwill from India. This arrangement was being renewed every year since 1989 with modifications as and when required.”

Asked about IWT, he said, “Under the Treaty provisions, India is required to provide advance information in regard to ‘extraordinary discharges and flood flows’. This is being done whenever the extraordinary flows are reached.”

Though Saxena didn’t elaborate, the move clearly appeared a fall out of the Pulwama terror attack in February and current tensions. India communicated its move to Pakistan on Tuesday — the day Union Jal Shakti (water resources) minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat expressed the country’s intent to fully utilise its share of water from Indus river system within the IWT rather than allowing it to flow into Pakistan. India was working on how its share of water that flows to Pakistan could be diverted for use by its own farmers, industries and people. “Work has already begun to stop the waters that flow into Pakistan (under IWT). I am talking about the water which is going to Pakistan, and I am not talking about breaking the Indus treaty,” Shekhawat was quoted as saying by a news agency in Mumbai. He said that the experts were working on the hydrological and techno-feasibility studies.

Under the IWT, waters of eastern rivers (Ravi, Beas and Sutlej) are allocated to India while the country is under obligation to let flow water of the western rivers (Indus, Jhelum and Chenab) to Pakistan. India can even use the water from the western rivers for its domestic purposes, irrigation and generating hydro-electric power to an extent.

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