Indian delegation in Pakistan for Indus commission meet

Indian delegation in Pakistan for Indus commission meet

Indian delegation in Pakistan for Indus commission meet

The differences over five hydroelectric projects will likely be the key areas of discussion when Indus water commissioners of India and Pakistan meet in Islamabad next week.

According to Water and Power ministry spokesman, the long pause in annual PIC meetings occurred after Pakistan Commissioner announced failure of the talks after protracted discussions at Commission level on design aspects of Kishenganga (330 MW) and Ratle (850 MW) projects that India is constructing on Kishenganga/Neelum River (a tributary of Jhelum River) and Chenab River, in 111th meeting of PIC in Jan-Feb 2015.

The official statement appreciated India's decision to resume the regular talks and welcomed the Indian delegation to Islamabad.

Ibrahim Qureshi said that the upcoming meeting on the treaty should raise concern over the Kishanganga Hydroelectric Plant of 330MW and Ratle Hydroelectric Plant of 850MW, being built by India on the Kishanganga and Chenab rivers, respectively.

The Pakistan side will be headed by Indus Water Commissioner Mirza Asif Saeed and he will be assisted by officials of Ministry of Water and Power and other experts.

The agenda of the two-day talks includes discussions on the design aspects of Pakal Dul, Lower Kalnai and Miyar hydroelectric plants, flood data supply by India and the tour programme of inspection and meetings by Pakistan and India to the sites of their interest in the Indus Basin, the statement concluded.

It had approached the World Bank, the mediator between the two countries of the 57-year-old water distribution treaty, in August last year raising issues over Kishanganga and Ratle projects in Jammu and Kashmir.

Prodded by World Bank, which brokered the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) of 1960, the two sides seem to be again leaving it to their experts to discuss the technical issues related to water-sharing which often get tangled in hostility.

"The ball has started rolling and we will see some results soon, a lot of them will be about building new storages in the basin", one top official with India's water resources ministry told me for a report I did for the BBC last December.

"As climate change would influence the flow of the rivers, so it can not be excluded from the treaty framework", said a senior official of Pakistan's Indus Waters Commission.

Another meeting planned in September 2016 was cancelled due to tension due to Uri terror attack by Pakistan-based outfits. Ahead of the visit, an Indian government source told PTI that India is "always open" to discuss and resolve concerns Pakistan has over its projects under the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) bilaterally. "In the past too, there had been delays in finalising agenda for the meeting, yet solutions were achieved", the source added.

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