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Pak to seeks stall J&K power project

world Updated: Feb 22, 2010 19:34 IST
Arun Joshi

Pakistan is seeking intervention of the International Court of Arbitration to stall the 330–MW Kishenganga hydro-electric project, which it alleges is being constructed in violation the 1960 Indus Water Treaty.

Islamabad’s objection is that India’s bid to utilize the waters of Kishenganga, which Pakistan calls Neelam, a tributary of Jhelum river in Kashmir, is a clear violation of the IWT.

It has appointed two adjudicators of its side and also prepared a list of three others to be jointly nominated by Pakistan and India toward constitution of the court, but India has neither nominated two of its adjudicators nor spoken of the three others, according to Pakistan’s Permanent Indus Commissioner Syed Jamaat Ali Shah.

A report in Pakistani newspaper Dawn quoted Shah as saying : “We have completed the entire process, it was only a matter of formal launching”.

The Kishanganga project is in Dawar, Gurez in Bandipore district in north Kashmir about 200 Km from Srinagar. The river waters would be brought to Wullar river through a tunnel and then released again downstream. As such neither the quantum of the water going to Pakistan would be affected, nor it would mean any other change in the current position, a senior functionary of the government told Hindustan Times .

“Pakistan is raising objections, because it does not want us to do anything, tap our resources and generate power for our people and raising infrastructure,” he said on condition of anonymity. He is not authorized to speak to media on the issue.

As to why India is not nominating its adjudicators to the court, he said that as India believed that it was within its rights under the treaty to construct the project, why should it become a party to a controversy, which is being raised by Pakistan for nothing but to delay the project.

Pakistan was taking these steps in a familiar fashion, when it had sought the intervention of the World bank to arbitrate on the design and height of 450 MW Baglihar hydro-electric project .

The WB arbitrator, a Swiss Professor Raymond Lafitte had asked India to keep the dam size upto 140 meters instead of 141.5 meters, and there was no other change in the original design of the project .

Now, it is raising objections to Bursar on three counts. One, the construction of 829 feet-high dam for the project would result in blockage of water to Pakistani Punjab’s plains and aggravate an already grim situation there .

Secondly, it is talking of environmental impact, saying that it would cause faster melting of glaciers in Himalayas. And, thirdly, the project is located in a seismic zone.