No resolution of Indus dam dispute

Extended talks in New Dehli between the secretaries of water and power for India and Pakistan over the construction of a dam on the river Chenab, in Kashmir, have failed to resolve an on-going dispute.

“I have to report that the situation is the same,” Ashfaq Mahmood, Pakistan’s water and power secretary told a news conference on 7 January. “The next step under the treaty is to appoint neutral experts,” he said, referring to a clause in the 1960 bilateral Indus Water Treaty.

Indian officials have told Pakistan that they have fully complied with the provisions of the treaty when building the 430 MW Baglihar hydroelectric dam and reject Pakistan’s stand that it is in violation of the treaty.

However, Pakistan has serious reservations on the design of the dam, as it fears the construction of spillway gates will give India control of waters in breach of the treaty and will deprive it of over 15,000L/s during the harvesting seasons, badly affecting agriculture.

India maintains that canals have not been dug to take water from the dam for irrigation purposes.

The treaty allows either side to unilaterally seek inspection of the other’s projects by neutral technical experts in case of any dispute. A provision provides recourse to the international arbitration if the two fail to resolve any dispute. Pakistan is threatening to ask the World Bank to arbitrate.

Meanwhile, work on the six-year project is expected to reach completion in April 2005.

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