The Court of Arbitration (CoA) has granted a stay order against the construction of the Kishanganga dam “structure” but the stay order has not been granted against the complete project, said former Indus Water Commissioner Jamaat Ali Shah while speaking to The Express Tribune.
Both India and Pakistan initially claimed victory after the announcement of the COA’s interim order on Saturday.
According to the order, a copy of which is available with The Express Tribune, the Court has granted the stay order against construction of the “dam structure” but has allowed India to continue work on allied facilities, like the tunnel required to construct the dam.
That India may not construct any permanent structures on or above the river bed is explicitly stipulated in the order.
“Except for the sub surface foundations of the dam, India shall not proceed with the construction of any permanent works on or above the Kishenganga/Neelum riverbed at the Gurez site that may inhibit the restoration of the full flow of that river to its natural channel,” reads the interim order.
Shah says the interim order is in Pakistan’s favour because it bars India from continuing work on the dam construction.
However, that’s only part of the ruling, which goes on to allow India to “utilise the temporary diversion tunnel it is said to have completed at the Gurez site and may construct and complete temporary cofferdams to permit the operation of the temporary diversion tunnel.”
Indian media highlighted the above clause in its coverage of the ruling, extrapolating that save permanent structures, India has been allowed to go ahead with the construction.
“Temporary diversion tunnel for temporary by-pass are just temporary facilities that may be removed,” insists Shah, adding that the real issue was to stop the India from the construction of the dam, which, he says, the court has directed.
How does Kishanganga affect Pakistan?
With construction of the Kishanganga Dam, India would divert water from the Kishanganga River, which is rechristened Neelum River as it crosses the Line of Control into Azad Jammu and Kashmir, through a 23-kilometre long tunnel to produce 330MWs or power. The water will subsequently be discharged into the Wullar Lake and ultimately flow through Jhelum River to Muzaffarabad.
If completed, the dam would result in a 21% drop in Neelum River’s inflow, thereby reducing the prospective energy generation from Pakistan’s Neelum-Jhelum Hydroelectric Project by 10%.
Pakistani officials say that India has completed 15% of the construction work on Kishanganga but according to some reports, India has completed about 43% of the work.
India is also working on 17 power projects on River Chenab and 16 projects on River Jhelum.
Pakistan and India had also entered into a row over construction of the Baglihar Hydroelectric Plant that was resolved by a neutral expert appointed by World Bank on the request of Pakistan.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 28th, 2011.