Tribune News Service
New Delhi, January 11
India has given green signal to Pakistan to visit the Indus Basin, including Ratle, Lower Kalnai and Pakaldul hydro projects, on the Chenab river.
Sources told The Tribune that Commissioners on both sides agreed to undertake the tour during the 115th meeting of the Permanent Indus Waters Commission (PIC) in Lahore in August 2018. Pakistan objects to designs of Pakal Dul (1000MW) dam and Lower Kalnai (48 MW) project under construction in Jammu and Kashmir in Chenab, calling it violative of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) while India dismisses the objection as baseless.
“Pakistan and India have been into the Indus water treaty dispute for ages. Due to our continued efforts, there’s a major breakthrough that India has finally agreed to our request for inspection of Indian projects in Chenab basin,” wrote Faisal Vawda, Pakistani Federal Minister for Water Resources on Twitter.
However, an Indian official source clarified that this tour was originally scheduled for October 2018 but was postponed because of the elections of local bodies in Jammu and Kashmir.
The PIC is an established mechanism under IWT to promote cooperation in development of Indus Water Systems. The IWT signed with World Bank mediation after nine years of negotiations mandates the PIC to meet at least once a year alternately in India and Pakistan. Under Article VII of the Treaty, both the Commissioners are mandated to undertake, once in every five years, a general tour to ascertain facts connected with various developments and works on both sides of the rivers.
Pakistani official team is expected to inspect the basin from 27th January to 1st February. “It’s indeed a feather in Ministry for water resources’ cap. We welcome this gesture from India and we expect the same spirit for resolution of other outstanding issues. The delegation will be headed by the Commissioner for Indus Waters and this is the result of his continued efforts,” tweeted Vawda.
IWT allows control of water flowing in the eastern rivers of Beas, Sutlej and Ravi to India. While Pakistan has control over the Indus, Chenab and Jhelum. Since signing of IWT in 1960, India has arranged 70 tours for the Pakistani side, while the Indian team has been hosted 48 times by Islamabad. No tour so far has been held in the current five years block ending in March 2020.