New Delhi: India on Thursday reiterated that the Indus Waters Treaty is a bilateral issue and technical questions and differences should be resolved bilaterally between India and Pakistan.
"India has always believed that the implementation of the Indus Waters Treaty, which includes the redressal of the technical questions and differences, should be done bilaterally between India and Pakistan," External Affairs Ministry spokesperson Vikas Swarup said in his weekly media briefing here.
"There are examples available where such matters had been successfully resolved bilaterally within the Permanent Indus Commission (such as the height of the freeboard for Kishan Ganga) or between the two governments as seen in the Salal Hydro Electric Project in 1978," he said, as per PTI.
Earlier this week, the World Bank Group, which had brokered the 1960 treaty, announced a pause in the separate processes initiated by India and Pakistan to allow the two countries to consider alternative ways to resolve their disagreements.
According to a statement issued by the World Bank, the announcement temporarily halts the appointment of a neutral expert, as requested by India, and the chairman of the Court of Arbitration as requested by Pakistan, to resolve issues regarding the two power plants under construction by India along the Indus rivers system.
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim had said, "We are announcing this pause to protect the Indus Waters Treaty and to help India and Pakistan consider alternative approaches to resolving conflicting interests under the Treaty and its application to two hydroelectric power plants."
"This is an opportunity for the two countries to begin to resolve the issue in an amicable manner and in line with the spirit of the treaty rather than pursuing concurrent processes that could make the treaty unworkable over time. I would hope that the two countries will come to an agreement by the end of January," Kim had added.
Following the September 18 cross-border terror attack on an army base at Uri in Jammu and Kashmir that claimed the lives of 19 Indian soldiers, New Delhi, which blamed Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammad, said that it would consider revisiting the Indus Waters Treaty, under which India has control over three eastern rivers - Beas, Ravi and Sutlej - all flowing from Punjab and Pakistan, controls the western rivers of the Indus, Chenab and Jhelum that flow from Jammu and Kashmir.
Jammu and Kashmir has been demanding a review of the treaty as it robs the state of its rights to use the water of the rivers.
The current processes under the treaty concern the Kishenganga (330 MW) and Ratle (850 MW) hydroelectric power plants, being built by India on the Kishenganga and Chenab rivers respectively.
"Given the will to address these matters through the appropriate mechanisms provided for in the Indus Waters Treaty, there is no reason why the technical design parameters on which Pakistan has raised objections cannot be sorted out by professional, technical experts from both sides," Swarup said.
"We had advised the World Bank not to rush for initiating two parallel processes simultaneously and hold more consultations," he said.
"It is a matter of satisfaction that this point has now been recognised by the World Bank. We believe that these consultations should be given adequate time."
The Indus Waters Treaty was seen as one of the most successful international treaties and has withstood frequent tensions between India and Pakistan, including conflict.
On December 13 too, the MEA had said, "Government had pointed out on 10 November legal untenability of World Bank launching two simultaneous processes for appointment of a neutral expert requested by India and establishment of Court of Arbitration by Pakistan to adjudicate tech differences between India and Pakistan on Kishenganga and Ralte projects."
"India ready to engage in further consultations on the matter of resolving current differences regarding these two projects," Swarup had added.
(With Agency inputs)