Disputed hydel projects don’t violate Indus Waters Treaty: India to World Bank envoy
World Bank held talks with India on Thursday over the disputed Kishenganga and Ratle hydropower projects in J&K. While the ministry of external affairs (MEA) chose not to make any comment on the talks, sources here said that Indian officials again conveyed to World Bank that these projects did not in any way violate the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) as alleged by Pakistan.
World Bank representative Ian Solomon held talks with senior officials from water resources ministry and MEA on Thursday. “It has been conveyed to them that the disputes should be resolved bilaterally or through the appointment of a neutral expert,” said a source. While the Kishenganga hydropower station is being built on the Jhelum river, Ratle is on Chenab.
The visit by Solomon followed World Bank’s decision last month to pause the separate processes it had initiated — appointment of a neutral expert as demanded by India and setting up of a court of arbitration as asked for by Pakistan — to resolve the issue.India had protested earlier saying that going ahead with both the steps simultaneously was “legally untenable”.
“We made a presentation and stuck to our position that there be a neutral expert to look into the issue as objections raised by Pakistan relating to the projects concerned are technical in nature.We also maintained that the project designs do not violate the IWT. Nothing was decided in the meeting,” said the source.
Announcing the move to stall the simultaneous processes in December, World Bank noted that its decision was meant to protect the IWT and to help India and Pakistan consider alternative approaches to resolving conflicting interests under the treaty and its application to two hydroelectric power plants.