Pakistani team to visit India for water talks

Islamabad: A three-member team of Pakistani officials is to visit India from Sunday for inspection of India’s hydroelectric projects on Chenab river, ARY News reported.

The Pakistani delegation will be led by Indus Water Commissioner Mehr Ali Shah. The visit ends on February 1.

The meeting follows their talks held in August last year in Lahore when the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan came to power. The delegation will travel to India through the Wagah border and hold talks under the 1960 Indus Water Treaty (IWT).

In the previous round of talks, both sides failed to achieve any progress over the river water dispute.

During the talks, Pakistan had expressed reservations over the construction of the 1,000-MW Pakal Dul and 48-MW Lower Kalnai hydroelectric projects on two different tributaries of River Chenab by India.

The Indian side led by its water commissioner P.K. Saxena agreed that all issues between the two countries would be resolved under the Indus Water Treaty.

New Delhi later invited the Pakistani side to visit and inspect the two hydro-electric projects.

Pakistani officials will inspect the Lower Kulani and Pakal Dal projects.

The Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) was formed under the Indus Waters Treaty, it includes the Indus commissioners of both the countries. The treaty provides both the commissioners to meet at least once every year, alternately in India and Pakistan.

Under Article VIII of the treaty, both the commissioners are mandated to undertake, once in every five years, a general tour of inspection of the rivers for ascertaining the facts connected with various developments and works on the rivers on both sides.

The treaty specifies that the waters of three eastern rivers namely Ravi, Beas and Sutlej, have been reserved for India while that of western rivers, namely Indus, Chenab and Jhelum, are for Pakistan
However, India claims it has unrestricted rights to develop hydroelectric power projects on the western rivers within the specified parameters of the design.

Pakistan says that the design of two under-construction hydroelectric projects Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai violate the river water treaty, while the Indian officials insist on their right to build these projects and hold that their design is fully in compliance with the guidelines of the treaty.