India and Pakistan hold bilateral talks on Indus Water Treaty in Lahore

Pakistan has raised objections on 1000MW Pakal Dul and 48MW Lower Kalnai hydroelectric projects on River Chenab. Photo: Reuters

India and Pakistan commenced the first bilateral round of talks on the Indus Water Treaty in Lahore on Wednesday since Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan assent to office. The meeting will be held for two days at the National Engineering Services Pakistan.

Both commissioners are set to meet twice a year and arrange technical visits to projects’ sites and critical river head works. However, Pakistan has been facing problems in timely meetings and visits.

India is being represented by a delegation of the Indian Water Commission led by Commissioner P.K. Saxena whereas Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters Syed Meher Ali Shah and his delegation are representing Pakistan.

Both sides will present their reports during the talks and issue a joint notification after. The talks will be the first inter-official engagement between India and Pakistan ever since Khan took office.

The last meeting was held in March wherein waterflow details of both side had been showed along with the quantum of water being used.

India and Pakistan had signed a treaty in 1960 after nine years of negotiations. The treaty provides a system of cooperation and information exchange between the two countries regarding their use of the rivers. However, disagreements have lined over the years between both sides.

Earlier Shah said Pakistan has raised objections on 1000MW Pakal Dul and 48MW Lower Kalnai hydroelectric projects on River Chenab and a detailed discussion will be held during the talks. “We had also raised concerns over construction of dams on Pakistani rivers and India did not bother about it and continued doing the same,” Shah said, adding India will reply to Pakistan’s queries on controversial water projects.

Former Pakistan Indus Water Commissioner Syed Jamaat Ali Shah told PTI that the successive Pakistani governments had given much importance to its water disputes with India. “India does not bother Pakistan in this regard. It begins work on building hydro power projects on the Pakistani rivers and the Pakistani government raises objections afterwards. Unless the Pakistani government seriously takes up these matters with India it will not get relief,” he said and added that Pakistan also needs to plead its case in the World Bank.

According to an official of the Pakistan Water Commission, Pakistan has been raising reservations over the designs of the two projects — 1000MW Pakal Dul and 48MW Lower Kalnai hydroelectric projects on River Chenab — and would like India to either modify the designs to make them compliant to 1960 Indus Waters Treaty or put the projects on hold until Delhi satisfies Islamabad.

“The two sides will in talks also finalise the schedule of future meetings of the Permanent Indus Commission and visits of the teams of the Indus commissioners,” the official said.

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