India invites Pak for talks on Kishenganga project

Last Updated: Thursday, October 15, 2009 - 10:52

New Delhi: India has invited Pakistan for
talks over Kishenganga power project in Jammu and Kashmir, an
issue over which Pakistan has threatened to move the World
Bank for arbitration.

Indus Water Commissioner G Ranganathan has written a
letter to his Pakistani counterpart Syed Jamaat Ali Shah
inviting him for discussing the issue, official sources said.

Ranganathan sent the letter months after Pakistan
threatened to move for arbitration the World Bank, which is
third party in Indo-Pak water disputes under the 1960 Indus
Water Treaty.

In his letter, Ranganathan has emphasised that
approaching the World Bank was not warranted as the matter
could be resolved through bilateral talks, the sources said.

Pakistan is yet to respond to the invitation, they said.

Pakistan threatened to approach the World Bank after
several rounds of bilateral talks failed to end differences.

Pakistan has been opposing construction of the power
project on Kishenganga, claiming that it violated the Indus
Water Treaty, a contention rejected by India.

Work on the 330-MW project, whose capacity can be raised
to 990 MW, started in 1994 and Pakistan immediately protested,
prompting talks between the two countries to resolve it.

Under the Indus Water Treaty, Pakistan has exclusive
right over three of the common rivers -- Indus, Jhelum and
Chenab while India has exclusive right over Sutlej, Ravi and
Beas. Kishenganga is a tributary of Jhelum river.

Pakistan has been alleging that the diversion of flow
will adversely affect its agriculture and hydroelectric
project on river Neelum -- as Jhelum is known across the
border.

Following concerns about submergence voiced by Pakistan,
India reviewed the project in 2006, converting it from a
storage project to a `run-of-river plant. The reviewed data
was communicated to Pakistan in June 2006.

When contacted to comment on the issue, Water
Resources Secretary U N Panjiyar told a news agency that "the provisions
of the treaty have not been breached...the Kishenganga Hydro
Power Project is as per the provisions of the Treaty".

Pakistan had earlier moved the World Bank for
arbitration on Baglihar power project built on Chenab river in
Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan was objecting to the design and
height of the dam.

The Bank appointed a neutral expert, Richard Laffite
who held separate discussions with representatives of the two
countries and visited the dam site.

After thorough deliberations, the expert in February
2007 gave a go-ahead to the 440 MW project in Doda district
with some suggestions for reduction in the dam height.

Bureau Report



First Published: Thursday, October 15, 2009 - 10:52

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