Pakistan has objected to India’s move to fill the controversial Nimoo Bazgo Dam built in Indian-held Kashmir.
The upstream hydroelectric plant with a capacity of 45 megawatts (MW) has been built near the Alchi village in Leh district to provide electricity to the Indian army deployed in Kargil. The decision to fill the dam up to capacity will inhibit Pakistan’s water inflow from the River Indus.
A senior official from the Ministry of Water and Power said India approached the government of Pakistan informing the latter the dam had been completed and was going to be filled with water. “We have asked India not to fill the dam as it is a disputed and controversial project,” said the official requesting anonymity.
An inquiry was earlier conducted by the Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) Secretary Muhammad Imtiaz Tajwar regarding the project. The report blamed former Indus Water commissioner Jamaat Ali Shah for delaying the issue and consequently losing the opportunity to take the matter up with a neutral expert or Court of Arbitration.
Sources, however, hold the Wapda secretary responsible for failing to establish how India managed to secure carbon credits for the Nimoo Bazgo Dam. They maintain Tajwar was unable to collect any documentary evidence regarding the accumulation of carbon credits by India during the entire investigation.
Jamaat Ali Shah also snubbed the allegations of not taking timely action, saying he had rejected India’s claims that the Nimoo Bazgo Dam would not harm Pakistan.
Pakistan first heard about the project in 2002, following which it requested India to provide further details. However, India did not respond till December 2006 despite numerous reminders by the Indus Water commissioner.
Legal battles between Pakistan and India over water rights have been a relentless bone of contention between the two countries. India has already constructed the Baglihar Dam with a capacity of 450MW on the Chenab River after a neutral expert ruled in favour of it.
The Court of Arbitration, however, stopped India from constructing a permanent structure for the Kishanganga Dam in its short-term order. The dam was being built by India on the Neelum-Jhelum River. A final decision regarding the project is still awaited.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2012.