Pakistan to seek inspection of Baglihar project site

May 25th, 2008 - 12:55 pm ICT by admin  

By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, May 25 (IANS) Pakistan will seek inspection of the Baglihar project site during a meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) to be held in Lahore. “We will take up the case of inspection of the Baglihar water project in the meeting with the Indian side and hope that they will agree for it,” an official in Pakistan PIC told IANS.

The 11-member Indian team will reach Lahore May 30 to start the four-day annual review meeting. The meeting is the annual event between the two countries to review the water situation and any disputes between the two countries.

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

Sources in the PIC said the meeting will start May 31 morning and will continue till June 3 noon. The Indian delegation will be headed by Commissioner Aranga Nathan while the Pakistani side will be led by Syed Jamaat Ali Shah, the water commissioner.

The Pakistani official said discussion on the inspection dates is not included in the agenda but “we intend to bring it so that the dispute could be settled and the commission can move ahead with the routine matters”.

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

“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 under way in accordance with the decision of the World Bank appointed neutral expert last year,” said the official.

Pakistan had raised concerns over the dam construction. Pakistan in its objections had raised four concerns on the design of the project and sought modification on freeboard, level of power intakes, poundage and spillway.

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 said that Indian calculation on freeboard was inaccurate; it was determined by him that crust level should be set at the lowest level by India. He, however, rejected other objections by Pakistan saying India can go ahead with the construction of the project.

He directed India to reduce the freeboard by 33 percent from 4.5 meters to 3 meters.

Both the sides after his decision claimed victory. But 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.

The official said that the PIC would also discuss its annual agenda which includes exchange of information regarding the monsoon season to avert flood possibilities.

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