ISLAMABAD: Indian secretary Dharwajay Singh said on Thursday that India has the right to build the Wullar Barrage project under all conditions but a change in its structure or design can be discussed if Pakistan agrees. Pakistan-India secretary-level talks on Wullar Barrage/Tulbul Navigational project are being held in Islamabad.
Pakistan’s Water and Power secretary Javed Iqbal said that the construction of Wullar Barrage is not acceptable other than the framework of Indus Water Treaty. He also said Pakistan will not accept any project of India which may result in Indian control over the River Jhelum water.
Sources said that Pakistan has firmed up its case to challenge another project being built by India on the Indus River in violation of the 1960 Indus Water Treaty.
However, the Indian secretary said that the barrage is not in violation of the Indus Water Treaty and will be used only for transportation.
Indian delegation, headed by Secretary Water Resources Dhruv Vijai Singh is in Islamabad from May 12 to 14 to discuss Pakistan’s objection to the diversion of Jhelum River into the Wullar barrage and construction of a 439-foot long and 12-metre wide navigational lock at the barrage.
The Pakistani delegation, to be headed by Water and Power Secretary Javed Iqbal, is expected to inform the Indian team about its decision to take up with a neutral expert the building of 45MW Nimoo-Bazgo hydroelectric plant on the main Indus River.
The two countries have so far held 13 rounds of secretary-level talks, including four under the composite dialogue, on the issue lying unresolved for more than 26 years. India started constructing the Wullar barrage in 1985 but had to suspend work in 1987 after objections by Pakistan which moved to seek international court of arbitration or the neutral expert.