kishangangaThe World Bank on Tuesday failed to reach a consensus with the Pakistani delegation on the future of the Indus Waters Treaty and the way forward and said that its role in the matter was limited and procedural.
The Indus Waters Treaty, inked in 1960 with World Bank mediation, governs the share of waters of six rivers between India and Pakistan. According to the pact, India controls Beas, Ravi and Sutlej while Pakistan holds reign over Indus, Chenab and Jhelum.
“The World Bank will continue to work with both countries to resolve the issues in an amicable manner and in line with the Treaty provisions,” a statement said.
On May 21, state-run Radio Pakistan had reported that Islamabad would approach the World Bank after Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Kishanganga hydroelectric power station on May 19 during his visit to Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan alleged that the construction of the dam violates the treaty, claiming that the project on a river flowing into Pakistan will disrupt water supplies.
A high-powered Pakistani delegation led by Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf Ali met with World Bank Chief Executive Officer Kristalina Georgieva and other senior officials on Monday and Tuesday.
During the meetings, held at Pakistan’s request to discuss issues regarding the Indus Waters Treaty and opportunities within the treaty to seek an amicable resolution, “several procedural options” for resolving the disagreement over the interpretation of the treaty’s provisions were discussed, the Bank said.
“While an agreement on the way forward was not reached at the conclusion of the meetings, the World Bank will continue to work with both countries to resolve the issues in an amicable manner and in line with the treaty provisions,” the Bank said in a statement at the end of the talks.
“The delegation of the Government of Pakistan also shared with the Bank their concerns about the recent inauguration of the Kishanganga hydroelectric plant,” the statement said.
The project, located at Bandipore in North Kashmir, envisages diversion of water of Kishan Ganga river to underground power house through a 23.25-km-long head race tunnel to generate 1713 million units per annum.
The Kishanganga project was started in 2007 but on May 17, 2010, Pakistan moved for international arbitration against India under the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty.
The Hague-based International Court of Arbitration allowed India in 2013 to go ahead with construction of the project in North Kashmir and upheld India’s right under the bilateral Indus Waters Treaty to divert waters from the Kishanganga for power generation in Jammu and Kashmir.
The international court, however, decided that India shall release a minimum flow of nine cubic metres per second into the Kishanganga river (known as Neelam in Pakistan) at all times to maintain environmental flows.
Islamabad had been raising objections over the design of the 330 MW Kishanganga hydroelectric project, saying it is not in line with the criteria laid down under the Indus Waters Treaty between the two countries. But, India says the project design was well within parameters of the treaty.
In January 2017, Pakistan had asked India to suspend the ongoing construction of the Kishanganga and Ratle hydro-power projects. It asked the World Bank to set up a court of arbitration to mediate the dispute over the Indus Waters Treaty.
In August, the World Bank said India was allowed to construct hydroelectric power plants on the tributaries of the Jhelum and Chenab rivers under the treaty, but with certain restrictions.
India and Pakistan, however, disagree about which features of the hydroelectric power plants could violate the provisions of the treaty.