Indian delegation in Pakistan for water talks

Lahore: A nine-member Indian delegation, led by Water Commissioner P.K. Saxena, arrived here on Tuesday to attend a two-day meeting of the India-Pakistan Perma­nent Indus Commission set to begin on Wednesday.

The talks will be the first official engagement between the two countries since Prime Minister Imran Khan took office this month.

Pakistan Water Commissioner Syed Mehr Ali Shah welcomed the Indian delegation at the Wagah border and will lead his side during the discussions at the Lahore headquarters of the National Engineering Services of Pakistan, Dawn online reported.

During the talks, Pakistan would raise its concerns over the designs of 1,000MW Pakal Dul and 48MW Lower Kalnai hydroelectric projects on two different tributaries of River Chenab in Jammu and Kashmir being built by India, the daily said.

Islamabad says that that New Delhi violated the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty by starting construction of reservoirs at a time when the country was reeling from severe water shortage.

Pakistan wants India to either modify them to make them compliant to the Treaty or put the projects on hold until an understanding is reached between the two sides.

According to reports, the Indian delegation was initially supposed to visit Pakistan in July, but later the meeting was postponed.

During the talks, the two sides will finalize the schedule of future meetings of the Permanent Indus Commission and visits of the teams of the Indus commissioners.

The water commissioners of Pakistan and India are required to meet twice a year and arrange technical visits to project sites and critical river head works, but Pakistan has been facing a lot of problems in timin meetings and visits, an official told Dawn daily.

The two-day session was also expected to discuss ways and means for timely and smooth sharing of hydrological data on shared rivers.