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Indus Waters Treaty: India can construct hydroelectric power plants, says WB


The World Bank has said that India is allowed to construct hydroelectric power plants on the Jhelum and Chenab Rivers after secretary-level discussions between India and Pakistan on the technical issues over the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) concluded this week in a spirit of goodwill and cooperation.

Pakistan was opposing the construction of the Kishanganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts) hydroelectric power plants being built by India, it said in a fact sheet issued on Tuesday at the conclusion of secretary-level talks between the two countries over the Indus Waters Treaty.

Indus Valley region

Noting that the two countries disagree over whether the technical design features of the two hydroelectric plants contravene the treaty, the World Bank said the IWT designates these two rivers as well as the Indus as the "Western Rivers" to which Pakistan has unrestricted use.

"Among other uses, India is permitted to construct hydroelectric power facilities on these rivers subject to constraints specified in Annexures to the treaty," the bank said in its fact sheet as it noted that the secretary-level discussions between Indian and Pakistan on the technical issues of the IWT took place this week "in a spirit of goodwill and cooperation".

The parties have agreed to continue discussions and reconvene in September in Washington, DC, it said in a separate statement.

In the lengthy fact sheet, the World Bank said Pakistan asked it to facilitate the setting up of a Court of Arbitration to look into its concerns about the designs of the two hydroelectric power projects.

On the other hand, India had asked for the appointment of a neutral expert to look into the issues, contending the concerns Pakistan raised were "technical" ones.

The World Bank's role in relation to "differences" and "disputes" is limited to the designation of personnel to fulfill certain roles when requested by either or both of the parties, the fact sheet said.

What is IWT?

The irrigation system in pre-partition India was designed for a single country. Thus the distribution of water was one of the key issues that needed resolution after the division of India in 1947.

Since the rivers in Pakistan flow through India, a scheme had to be devised to share this water. Such a scheme was agreed by way of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) that was signed in 1960 by President Mohammad Ayub Khan of Pakistan and Prime Minister Jawahar Lal Nehru of India. The World Bank acted as the facilitator of the treaty.

This and other details have been painstakingly researched by Ijaz Hussain in his recent book on the IWT.

The treaty administers how river Indus and its tributaries that flow in both the countries will be utilised.

According to the treaty, Beas, Ravi and Sutlej are to be governed by India, while, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum are to be taken care by Pakistan.

The treaty also provides arbitration mechanism to solve disputes amicably.Climate change is causing melting of ice in Tibetan plateau, which scientists believe will affect the river in future.

It maybe noted that both India and Pakistan are still at loggerheads over various issues since Partition, but there has been no fight over water after the Treaty was ratified.


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