Indus Water Treaty Talks Begin Today

Indus Water Treaty Talks Begin Today

21 September 2013
Times of India
Vishwa Mohan

New Delhi: The much awaited Indo-Pak talks on the Indus Water Treaty will begin here on Sunday. During the four-day talks, both sides will discuss contentious issues of water sharing in the context of operational and proposed hydroelectric projects on Indian side. Pakistan's objection on four hydroelectric projects (combined generation capacity of 2,018 mw) - proposed to be constructed by India in the Chenab river basin - will dominate the talks during the meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission. The meeting will conclude on September 25. The dialogue assumes significance when Prime Minister Manmohan Singh is expected to meet his Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif on sidelines of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) in New York next week. Though New Delhi is yet to officially confirm the Singh-Sharif meeting during the PM's US visit, the recent developments like discussing water issues and visiting of a Pakistani judicial commission to Mumbai to cross-examine witnesses of 26-11 terror case indicate efforts on both sides to bring normalcy in bilateral ties. Pakistan is likely to raise its objections to four hydroelectric projects - Ratle (850 mw), Miyar (120 mw), Lower Kalnai (48 mw) and Pakal Dul (1,000 mw) - on the ground that they allegedly violate the Indus Waters Treaty. Incidentally, the PM had in June kick-started work on the Ratle project which is the nation's first hydroelectric venture that was bid out through tariff-based international competitive bidding. The project's estimated cost is Rs 5,500 crore. The Indian Commissioner for Indus Waters would be asked by its Pakistani counterpart to provide complete lowdown about these projects. New Delhi, on its part, will try to convince that all the projects have been proposed in adherence to the Indus Water Treaty, 1960. Under the treaty, India is allowed the use of eastern rivers in the Indus river system and can only use the western rivers for non-consumptive use or for power projects. India has not utilized even half of this right granted under the treaty. The Indus system of rivers comprises three eastern rivers (Ravi, Beas and Sutlej and their tributaries) and three western rivers (Indus, Jhelum and Chenab and their tributaries). The treaty was signed on September 19, 1960. Under the treaty, the permanent Indus water commissioners of both the countries are required to meet regularly at least once a year, alternatively in India and Pakistan and also when requested by either commissioner.