Sat, 25 Mar 2023

Kathua (Jammu and Kashmir) [India], January 28 (ANI): Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Saturday said that Pakistan is creating unwanted hurdles in the power projects Kishanganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts), which will be built in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir, as India is not stopping the flow of water but only using it for the power projects.

The minister's statement comes following the notice issued to Pakistan for modification of the Indus Waters Treaty after Islamabad's actions adversely impinged the provisions of the treaty.

Speaking to media persons here, the Union Minister said, "The India-Pakistan Indus Waters Treaty was finalized in the year 1960 and as a result of that treaty, there was an understanding between the two countries India and Pakistan. There would be sharing three of the rivers each. Whereas Jhelum, Chenab and Indus Waters went to the Pakistan's share and Ravi, Sutlej and Beas were India's share and this was a very solemn undertaking.""It was accomplished at the time when President Mohammad Ayub Khan was at the helm of affairs in Islamabad. But time and again Pakistan has sought to raise some of the other controversies. Now the latest issue is that of the two projects that are coming in the Union Territory of Jammu and Kashmir one of them incidentally comes in my own Lok Sabha Constituency in the place called Kishtwar. Now, this is a project called Ratle Project,"he added.

Singh said that the Shahpur Kandi Project on the Ravi River was withheld for 40 years by the previous UPA government and the Kishtwar was withheld for the last eight years.

"It had been stalled for almost a decade by the earlier UPA government. After tremendous efforts, it was revived and now it is being undertaken as a joint venture between the Centre and the UT govt. On the other hand, Kishanganga Project, Now, Pakistan is trying to put out the case as if it is a violation of the Indus Waters Treaty which is not so because the Indus Waters Treaty gives you the right over the water share but it does not prevent the other country from any activities which are non-consumptive, that does not consume water. So merely the constructing of that project is not going to consume the water of these rivers," he said.

Keeping in view the past action of Pakistan the Indian government has decided to the reorganization of Indus Waters Treaty and write to Pakistan to reorganise the Indus Waters Treaty which is a big step in this matter.

He said that the Ministry of External Affairs has taken up this matter with Pakistan and will take appropriate steps.

Earlier on Friday, India issued notice to Pakistan for modification of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) of September 1960 after Islamabad's actions adversely impinged the provisions of the treaty, according to sources.

The notice was conveyed on January 25 through respective Commissioners for Indus Waters as per Article XII (3) of the IWT.

He reiterated, "I am sure the concerned departments and Ministry of External Affairs have taken it up with Pakistan and asked them to avoid racking up controversy over this. This govt led by PM Modi has always been decisive in whatever he decides, whatever initiative he takes and at the same time every decision is taken with a lot of diligence and home work. So these projects were also conceived, and planned, keeping all the conditions of the Indus Water Treaty in mind and there is no violation at all."The objective of the notice for modification, according to sources, is to provide Pakistan with an opportunity to enter into intergovernmental negotiations within 90 days to rectify the material breach of the IWT. This process would also update IWT to incorporate the lessons learned over the last 62 years.

India has always been a responsible partner in implementing the IWT. Pakistan's actions, however, have encroached on the provisions of IWT and their implementation and forced India to issue an appropriate notice for modification of IWT, sources said.

In 2015, Pakistan requested for the appointment of a Neutral Expert to examine its technical objections to India's Kishenganga and Ratle Hydro Electric Projects (HEPs). In 2016, Pakistan unilaterally retracted this request and proposed that a Court of Arbitration adjudicate its objections.

According to sources, this action by Pakistan is a breach of the graded mechanism of dispute settlement envisaged by Article IX of IWT. India thus made a separate request for the matter to be referred to a Neutral Expert.

The initiation of two simultaneous processes on the same questions and the potential of their inconsistent or contradictory outcomes creates an unprecedented and legally untenable situation, which risks endangering IWT itself. The World Bank acknowledged this itself in 2016, and took a decision to "pause" the initiation of two parallel processes and requested India and Pakistan to seek an amicable way out, sources say.

Pakistan, despite repeated efforts by India to find a mutually agreeable way forward, has refused to discuss the issue during the five meetings of the Permanent Indus Commission from 2017 to 2022.

The World Bank at Pakistan's continued insistence initiated actions on both the Neutral Expert and Court of Arbitration processes. Such parallel consideration of the same issues is not covered under any provision of IWT.

The World Bank in October 2022, made appointments in two separate processes requested by India and Pakistan in relation to the Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric power plants.

It appointed a chairman of the Court of Arbitration and a neutral expert "in line with its responsibilities" under the Indus Waters Treaty.

A World Bank release said that the two countries disagree over whether the technical design features of the two hydroelectric plants contravene the Treaty.

It said Pakistan asked the World Bank to facilitate the establishment of a Court of Arbitration to consider its concerns about the designs of the two hydroelectric power projects, while India asked for the appointment of a Neutral Expert to consider similar concerns over the two projects.

Michel Lino was appointed as the Neutral Expert and Sean Murphy was appointed as Chairman of the Court of Arbitration. They will carry out their duties in their individual capacity as subject matter experts and independently of any other appointments they may currently hold, the release said. (ANI)

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