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Controversial Kishanganga dam: Pakistan approaches World Bank to protect water rights

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has sent a four-member delegation to World Bank in Washington to raise inauguration of Kishanganga hydropower plant by India in violation of the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty (IWT).

The move comes a day after Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the 330-megawatt Kishanganga hydropower station.

Pakistan has opposed the project as it violates a World Bank-mediated treaty on the sharing of waters from the Indus and its tributaries upon which 80 percent of its irrigated agriculture depends. New Delhi claims that IWT allows it to build ‘run-of-river’ hydel projects that do not change the course of the river and do not deplete the water level downstream.

Disagreeing with the Indian interpretation, Islamabad says that the Kishanganga project not only violates the course of the river but also depletes its water level.

Speaking to the media in Washington, Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States Aizaz Ahmed Chaudhry said a four-member delegation, led by attorney general Ashtar Ausaf Ali, would hold talks with World Bank officials on the issue on Monday (today).

“The issue of construction of the Kishanganga dam on River Neelum will be discussed in the meeting,” he said, stating that it was a violation of the IWT by India. “The Pakistani delegation will also raise the issue with the president of the World Bank,” he added.

Chaudhry said the World Bank was a guarantor of the international agreement and, therefore, it must intervene in the matter and fulfil its obligation.

The dam has been constructed on waters flowing into Pakistan that would seriously disrupt supplies vital to the country’s agriculture,” he said, adding, “India plans to undertake several such projects in the disputed territory.”

Chaudhry said the World Bank was a guarantor of the international agreement and, therefore, it must intervene in the matter and fulfil its obligation.

“The dam has been constructed on waters flowing into Pakistan that would seriously disrupt supplies vital to the country’s agriculture,” he said, adding, “India plans to undertake several such projects in the disputed territory.

India had started work on the Kishanganga hydropower station in 2007. Three years later, Pakistan took the matter to the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, which stayed the project for three years.

Under the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty, the waters of the eastern rivers—the Sutlej, Beas, and Ravi—had been allocated to India and that of the western rivers —the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab—to Pakistan.

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