India Rebuts Pak Charge On Kishenganga Project At The Hague

India Rebuts Pak Charge On Kishenganga Project At The Hague

3 September 2012
Rising Kashmir


New Delhi: India has rebutted Pakistan's claim that the planned diversion of water for its 330 mw Kishenganga hydro project in Jammu and Kashmir violates a five-decade-old treaty as the two countries concluded their arguments before an international court of arbitration. Pakistan has claimed that the project would rob it of 15 per cent of its share of river waters. It also accused India of trying to divert the river in order to harm Pakistan's Neelum-Jhelum hydro-electric project. On May 17, 2010, Pakistan had moved for arbitration against India under the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty 1960. According to a release issued by the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague, during the hearing, which began on August 20,India submitted that all the provisions of the Treaty must be interpreted in light of its object and purpose mentioned in the preamble. The Indian side led by acclaimed jurist Fali S Nariman said that it has a right to transfer water between the tributaries of the Jhelum River for the purpose of hydro power generation. Such a right is evident, India argued, given that prior to the Treaty's signature, India was already contemplating the construction of a hydro-electric project at the current location that would include an inter-tributary transfer. In this context, India emphasised that it would not have consented to any Treaty provision that would preclude the realisation of such a project. Indian representatives recalled that the preamble of the Treaty spells out the parties' desire in signing the document to attain the most complete and satisfactory utilisation of the waters of the Indus system of rivers. According to India, this object will be served by the planned diversion of the Kishenganga-Neelum waters, as this design will allow India to realise the full power generating potential of the upstream stretch of the Kishenganga-Neelum River, while also benefiting Pakistan's hydro-electric uses. India pointed that between 1989, when Pakistan was first apprised of the project, and 2006, when the final design was notified to it, New Delhi repeatedly indicated its willingness to take into account Pakistan's downstream uses, urging Pakistan to document them. 'However, in India's view, Pakistan consistently failed to substantiate its uses within the Neelum valley with verifiable data,' the release said. During its arguments, Pakistan maintained that the planned diversion of the waters of the Kishenganga-Neelum river by the project is prohibited by the Indus Waters Treaty signed between the two countries. It told the court that India's obligation was to let flow and not permit any interference with the waters of the Western Rivers before they flow into Pakistan. Under the Court of Arbitration Rules of Procedures, the court would try to deliver the verdict within six months of the close of the hearings. The seven-member Court of Arbitration is chaired by Judge Stephen M Schwebel of the United States, who is former President of the International Court of Justice. The other members of the Court are Sir Franklin Berman and Prof Howard S Wheater (UK), Prof Lucius Caflisch (Switzerland), Prof Jan Paulsson (Sweden), Judge Bruno Simma (Germany), and Judge Peter Tomka (Slovakia).