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India snubs Pak over hydro project

In a clear message to Pakistan to keep its hands off the Kishanganga dam project, India is going ahead with the construction of the 330-MW hydroelectric power plant on the river in north Kashmir.

india Updated: May 06, 2010 00:43 IST
Arun Joshi

In a clear message to Pakistan to keep its hands off the Kishanganga dam project, India is going ahead with the construction of the 330-MW hydroelectric power plant on the river in north Kashmir.

Pakistan has threatened to move the International Court of Arbitration to get the project work stopped, citing an alleged violation of the Indus Water Treaty, brokered by the World Bank, of 1960 that empowered Islamabad to monitor the usage of the three rivers — Jhelum, Chenab and Indus — that flow from Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan occupied Kashmir.

Kishanganga, which is called Neelam in Pakistan, is a tributary of the Jhelum.

The treaty also empowered India with full control over the waters of three Punjab rivers — Ravi, Sutlej and Beas.

“We are not going to halt the work. It will go on in full pace,” Minister of State for Power Shabir Ahmad Khan, who recently held discussions with Union Power Minister Shushilkumar Shinde on the issue, told HT. “We have not violated any provisions of the treaty.”

Pakistan foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told the National Assembly in Islamabad on Tuesday, as reported by Dawn newspaper, that Pakistan would move the international court to stop the work.

This is not the first time Pakistan is crying foul over river water projects.

Pakistan raised objections when the Baglihar power project work on Chenab river started, and took the issue to the World Bank.

“What came out of that?” Khan said. “Pakistan was told that no violation had taken place. In February 2007, a World Bank arbitrator upheld the Indian design and size of the Baglihar project.”

The tunnelling work of the project is in progress. The 22-km long-diversion tunnel will bring the Kishanganga water to the powerhouse at Dawar, 200 km from Srinagar, and then to Wullar lake.