Pakistan seeks World Bank arbitration related to the Indus Water Treaty with India

Hydro project

Numerous international reports indicate that on Sept. 28, Pakistan government officials traveled to the World Bank Court of Arbitration to present its concerns that India could revoke the 56-year-old Indus Water Treaty based on many issues including activity at the 330-MW Kishanganga hydropower project.

Pakistan government officials led by the country’s Attorney General met with World Bank officials at the World Bank headquarters in Washington D.C., to discuss Pakistan’s request for arbitration given to India pursuant to Article IX of the Indus Waters Treaty.

On Dec. 20, 2013, the Permanent Court of Arbitration, an intergovernmental organization located at The Hague in the Netherlands, issued its decision that allowed India to proceed with the construction of the Kishanganga project, located in Jammu and Kashmir, India.

If India commissions the Kishanganga project before Pakistan commissions its project in the same region, India would have water rights in the region. According to interpretation of the 1960 Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan, the country that first completes a hydroelectric project in the disputed region will have priority rights to river waters -- the Neelum River in Pakistan and the Kishangana River in India.

A report today in the Pakistan-based International News, said, Indian Indus Waters Commissioner P.K. Saxena sent a letter to his Pakistani counterpart detailing the filling and the Indus Water Treaty provision that is allowing India to proceed.

“As estimated by the project authorities, the initial filling below the dead storage level of the Kishanganga hydroelectric project is proposed to be carried out from Aug. 14 to Aug. 20, 2016 under the provision of paragraph 18 of Annexure E of the [Indus Waters] Treaty,” the Indian official said in a letter.”

The exact date the letter was sent is not immediately available, but Pakistan’s Indus Waters Commissioner is Mirza Asif Baig.

India’s US$773 million Kishanganga hydroelectric project began construction in 2007 and the scheme consists of a concrete-faced rockfill dam 37 meters in height to divert water from the Kishanganga River. The water delivery system is a 24-km-long headrace tunnel that uses a 4-m-diameter, 1-km-long inclined pressure shaft to send water to three 110-MW Pelton turbine-generator units located in an underground powerhouse at Bandipur.

Contractors finished excavating Kishanganga’s tailrace tunnel in September 2014 and project completion was scheduled for November 2016, but India has revised the commissioning date to sometime in 2017.

Pakistan is still constructing its 969-MW Neelum-Jhelum run-of-river hydropower plant downstream of the Kishanganga project at an estimated cost of US$4.5 billion. In April, the project was reportedly 80% complete.

Neelum-Jhelum is part of a scheme designed to divert water from the Neelum River to a power station on the Jhelum River. The power station is located in Azad Kashmir, 22 km south of Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir in Pakistan.

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