Pakistan and India found themselves in another water rights row on Thursday after the former objected to the construction of three hydropower projects by the latter on the Chenab River. The development comes on the heels of a partial award on India’s Kishanganga Dam announced by the International Court of Arbitration (ICA) in Pakistan’s favour.
According to sources, Pakistan and India are set to conduct high level talks over the three projects on March 23. An Indian technical team, led by the Indian water commissioner, will reach Lahore tomorrow to meet the Pakistani team, led by the Indus Water Commissioner Asif Baig.
Baig confirmed that the two sides had agreed to discuss Pakistan’s objections against the projects.
The sources told The Express Tribune that Pakistan had raised objections over the designs of the 850MW Rattle, 120MW Miyar and 48MW Lower Karnai hydropower projects after they were shared by India.
“We have objected to the designs as they are not in line with the parameters determined by the Indus Water Treaty,” said a senior government official.
India’s proposed 850MW Rattle plant was originally designed as a 690MW plant. Its size was increased following revised water flow studies, conducted by the Indian Central Water Commission. The project has already received the approval of the apex committee of the Indian union ministry of environment.
Meanwhile, New Delhi has awarded the contract for constructing the Miyar plant. The project’s planned site is on the right bank of the Chenab river near Udaipur town.
While the rival nations are expected to try and defuse the row over the three projects, water issues are expected to worsen as India plans to construct 155 hydropower projects on the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab rivers.
According to the Indus Waters Treaty, signed between Pakistan and India in 1960, Pakistan was allowed to use the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab rivers, while India was allowed to use Ravi, Sutlej and Beas.
Published in The Express Tribune, March 22nd, 2013.