Washington: India and Pakistan have reconfirmed their commitment to the preservation of the Indus Water Treaty over the talks held on September 14-15 in Washington D.C. to discuss the technical issues of the Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric power plants within the framework of the Treaty.
However, an agreement was not reached at the conclusion of the meetings.
In a press release, the World Bank stated that, “Another round of the Secretary-level discussions between both the nations on the technical issues of the Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric power plants within the framework of the Indus Waters Treaty took place on September 14-15 in Washington, D.C.”
“Both countries and the World Bank appreciated the discussions and reconfirmed their commitment to the preservation of the Treaty. While an agreement has not been reached at the conclusion of the meetings, the World Bank will continue to work with both countries to resolve the issues in an amicable manner and in line with the Treaty provisions,” it added.
The release further said that the World Bank is committed to fulfill its responsibilities under the Treaty, while continuing to assist both the countries.
Earlier in August, India was allowed to construct hydroelectric power plants on the Jhelum and Chenab Rivers after secretary-level discussions between India and Pakistan on the technical issues over the Indus Waters Treaty were concluded in a spirit of goodwill and cooperation.
“Both India and Pakistan have agreed to continue discussions over the Indus Waters Treaty and reconvene in September in Washington, DC,” the World Bank had said in a brief statement.
India is permitted to construct the Kishenganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts) hydroelectric power plants on Jhelum and the Chenab rivers as specified in the Indus Waters Treaty.
However, Pakistan had opposed whether the technical design features of the two hydroelectric plants contravene the treaty.
“The plants are on respectively a tributary of the Jhelum and the Chenab Rivers. The treaty designates these two rivers as well as the Indus as the “Western Rivers” to which Pakistan has unrestricted use. Among other uses, India is permitted to construct hydroelectric power facilities on these rivers subject to constraints specified in Annexures to the treaty,” the World Bank stated in a factsheet.
The Indus Waters Treaty was signed in 1960 after nine years of negotiations between India and Pakistan with the help of the World Bank, which is also a signatory.
The World Bank stated in its factsheet that Pakistan has asked it to facilitate the setting up of a Court of Arbitration to look into its concerns about the designs of the two hydroelectric power projects. However, India has asked for the appointment of a Neutral Expert for the same purpose.
World Bank Group president Jim Yong Kim had announced in December 2016 that the World Bank would pause before taking further steps in each of the two processes requested by the parties.
Since December 2016, the World Bank has worked towards an amicable resolution of the matter and to safeguard the Treaty.