Pakistan may move the Hague on Kishanganga water row

June 3rd, 2008 - 12:03 am ICT by IANS  

By Muhammad Najeeb
Islamabad, June 2 (IANS) Islamabad plans to move the International Court for Justice (ICJ) after Pakistani and Indian officials failed to settle a water sharing dispute over the Kishanganga hydropower project that India is building in Jammu and Kashmir, sources said here Monday. Officials of both countries are holding the 100th meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) to review water-related issues between the two countries. The 11-member Indian delegation is in Pakistan and both sides continued their talks for the third consecutive day Monday.

Tuesday is the last day for the talks. “We don’t see any flexibility on the Indian side and we’ll have to move the ICJ to seek justice,” a Pakistani official told IANS.

On Monday, the PIC held a lengthy meeting to address Pakistan’s objections to the project. The meeting was inconclusive as both sides maintained their stated positions.

Pakistan has raised six objections to the revised design of the dam. Of these, four - free board of the dam, quantum of storage, silt outlet and diversion of water - came up for discussion.

Both sides could not resolve four of the six issues. Officials of both countries were exchanging data and trying to iron out differences.

“Pakistan understands that it is a time-consuming exercise but it can be resolved within a time frame. Pakistan is pressing for a deadline because such talks cannot go on forever,” Pakistan’s commissioner Jamaat Ali Shah later told media persons.

The Pakistan side first raised objections to the project in 2004 and the Indian side revised the design of the dam in a bid to remove the objections. The Pakistani side, however, raised fresh objections to the revised design, which came up for discussion Sunday.

The problem between the two countries arose when India decided to build a dam on the Kishanganga river that originates in Kashmir. The proposed site for the dam is near Kanzalwan - a town from where the river enters the Pakistan side of Kashmir.

The Indian plans include storing water and then tunnelling it to the Wuller lake, where it is constructing a 800 MW power plant.

Pakistan maintains that India, under the Indus Basin Water Treaty, can store water but cannot divert it to any other side because the treaty charges it with releasing as much water downstream as it stores.

Thus, any diversion would violate the provisions of the treaty. It would also badly affect hydro power development plans (especially the Neelum-Jehlum hydro-power project) and agriculture in Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

The Indian side is of the view that Pakistan is not developing its hydel resources anyway and should not get so serious about its objections.

In addition to raising treaty issues, Pakistan also objected to the design of the dam and asked India to address its concerns before proceeding further.

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