ISLAMABAD: A neutral expert from the World Bank will address the legal battle between Islamabad and New Delhi in The Hague on Wednesday over the designs of two hydropower projects being built by India, Pakistani media reported on Monday.
South Asian neighbors have been arguing over hydropower projects on the shared Indus River and its tributaries for decades, and Pakistan complains that India’s planned hydroelectric dams will cut off flows from the river that powers 80 percent of its agriculture. of irrigation.
Pakistan, a lower riparian state, specifically opposes India’s construction of the 330-megawatt Kishanganga hydroelectric project on the Jhelum River and the 850-megawatt Ratle hydroelectric project on the Chenab River in the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir. India says construction of the two projects is permitted by the Indus Waters Treaty signed between the two countries in 1960.
“Pakistan’s delegation comprising Pakistan’s Indus Water Commissioner, senior officials from the Attorney General’s Office and a team of international lawyers hired by the Government of Pakistan will plead the country’s case for justice,” he told The News a senior official in the Attorney General’s office. , one of the largest English newspapers in Pakistan.
The Indus Waters Treaty provides two forums for dispute resolution: the Court of Arbitration, which deals with legal, technical and systemic issues, and a neutral expert who can only rule on technical issues.
Earlier this year, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague rejected India’s objections to a procedure initiated by Pakistan over water use in the Indus River Basin, reopening a procedure that had been blocked for many years.
Pakistan sought a solution through PCA arbitration proceedings in 2016, prompting India to request that the World Bank appoint a neutral expert under the terms of the treaty. India boycotted the Hague court proceedings and questioned the court’s jurisdiction.
“In a unanimous decision, binding on the Parties and without appeal, the Court rejected each of the objections raised by India and determined that the Court is competent to consider and determine the disputes set out in Pakistan’s Request for Arbitration,” it said. the court. he said in a statement after his ruling earlier this year.
He did not provide details on when and how the case will continue, but added that it will address the interpretation and application of the bilateral Indus Waters Treaty, particularly the provisions on hydroelectric projects, as well as the legal effect of disputed past decisions. resolution bodies under the Treaty.
Pakistan has also consistently raised its concerns with the Permanent Indus Commission since 2006 over Kishanganga and 2012 over the Ratle project. Pakistan also sought a solution to the dispute in government-level talks held in New Delhi in July 2015.
Pakistan has raised three objections to the design of the Kishenganga project, including that the project pond is 7.5 million cubic meters, which should be one million cubic meters. Pakistan also wants India to increase the catchment by 1 to 4 meters and the spillways up to nine meters high.
On the issue of Ratle hydropower plant, Islamabad wants India to keep the freeboard at one meter while India wants to keep it at two metres. Furthermore, India wants to keep the pond with a capacity of 24 million cubic meters, but Pakistan wants to limit it to eight million cubic meters. Pakistan also wants the project’s intake to be raised up to 8.8 meters and its spillways up to 20 meters.