Indian team in Pakistan for 100th meet of Indus commission

May 31st, 2008 - 3:23 pm ICT by admin  

By Muhammad Najeeb
Lahore, May 31 (IANS) An 11-member India team is here to attend the 100th meeting of the Pakistan and India Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) that began Saturday to review progress over water issues between the two countries. Before going into the meeting, officials of both countries celebrated the 100th meeting of the commission by cutting a huge cake.

“This shows the success of the commission and our commitment towards progress on all issues related to water distribution,” Pakistan’s Commissioner for PIC, Syed Jamaat Ali Shah, told media persons in the presence of his Indian counterpart G. Aranga Nathan.

The PIC is the permanent commission between Pakistan and India that was established after the 1960 Water Treaty between the two rivals with the help of the World Bank.

The Indian team reached Lahore Friday evening for the four-day annual review meeting.

At least one annual review meeting of the commission is mandatory but on many occasions, the two sides have met more than once in a year making the present four-day meeting the 100th.

Responding to a question about Pakistan’s call for inspecting the controversial Baglihar project site in Jammu and Kashmir, Nathan said that it was not included in the agenda. “We have a set agenda and would go according to it,” he told media persons.

However, his Pakistani counterpart, while agreeing that the Baglihar dam was not on the meeting agenda, said any issue could be discussed. “We are looking forward to taking up the Baglihar issue in this meeting,” Shah said.

The Baglihar hydropower-cum-water storage project is being built on the Chenab river flowing from Kashmir.

“The Pakistani team will urge the Indian side to give an exact date for inspection of the Baglihar project to determine whether or not the work is in accordance with the decision of the World Bank appointed neutral expert last year,” said a Pakistani official.

Pakistan had raised serious concerns over the dam construction and objected to its design. It had raised four concerns on the design of the project and sought modification.

After refusal by India to modify the design, Pakistan in 2006 sought mediation by the World Bank under the treaty. The bank appointed Raymond Lafitte as neutral expert to review the project and look into Pakistan’s concerns.

In his Feb 12, 2007, report, Lafitte pointed out some anomalies, but said India could go ahead with the construction of the project.

Pakistan has been saying that it needs to inspect the project to determine if the expert’s decision is being implemented.

“Now we want to ensure that the design is being modified and will be commissioned under instruction by the expert,” the official told IANS.

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