Washington, May 22: Pakistan and World Bank have started talks here over the recently-inaugurated Kishanganga hydropower project in Jammu and Kashmir, with Islamabad accusing New Delhi of violating the Indus Waters Treaty by setting up the dam.
A four-member Pakistan delegation, led by Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf, arrived in Washington on Sunday for three-day talks aiming to convince the World Bank authorities to set up a court of arbitration to resolve the issue. Islamabad fears the project might reduce the water flow into its territory. The World Bank is the nodal body on the Indus Waters Treaty.
India says it has the right under the treaty to set up hydropower plants on the tributaries of the rivers flowing through its territory.
The Pakistan government on its Twitter handle said on Tuesday: “Pakistan and World Bank have started talks in Washington on India’s Kishanganga hydropower project on River Neelum in Occupied Kashmir. The Pakistani delegation is led by Attorney General Ashtar Ausaf & Pakistan is demanding to set up a court of arbitration to settle the dispute.”
Pakistan had voiced concern after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on May 19 inaugurated the 330-MW Kishenganga hydroelectric project in Jammu and Kashmir’s Bandipora district.
“Pakistan believes that the inauguration of the project without the resolution of the dispute is tantamount to violation of the Indus Waters Treaty,” a Foreign Office statement had said before the inauguration.
It said that the project “will violate the treaty that regulates the use of waters in the shared rivers” and protested against the construction of the project.
The Indus Waters Treaty is a 1960 water distribution pact between India and Pakistan. It gave India control over the water flowing from Beas, Ravi and Sutlej rivers. The control over the water flowing in three western rivers — the Indus, the Chenab and the Jhelum — all in Jammu and Kashmir — was given to Pakistan.
Islamabad had in the past reached out to the World Bank to express its objection to the design and construction of the 330 MW Kishanganga hydroelectric project and the 850 MW Ratle hydroelectric project on the tributaries of the Indus in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Kishanganga project was delayed for several years as Pakistan dragged India to the International Court of Arbitration, which ruled in India’s favour in 2013.