ISLAMABAD: After months of tensions, India and Pakistan finally resumed talks of Indus Water Commission (IWT) on Monday.
A ten member Indian delegation had reached Islamabad on Sunday and held talks with Pakistani officials today on IWT. The officials discussed problems relating to Indus Basin at the two-day Indus Water Commission meeting which began here today after a gap of nearly two years.
The 10-member Indian delegation led by Indus Water Commissioner P K Saxena held a closed door meeting with the Pakistani side which was headed by Mirza Asif Saeed.
The Pakistani officials have termed the meeting of ‘much importance’.
During the meeting, Pakistan was expected to highlight concerns about the three Indian hydro projects being built on the rivers flowing to Pakistan.
They are 1000 MW Pakul Dul on Chenab, 120 MW Miyar, located across Miyar Nalla which is a right bank main tributary of River Chenab, and the 43 MW Lower Kalnai hydro project on Lower Kalnai Nalla, a tributary of river Chenab.
Pakistan contends that the projects were violating the Indus Water Treaty of 1960, which has come under strain during the current tension between the two sides.
Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai are being built in Jammu and Kashmir at a cost of Rs 7,464 crore (November 2008 price level) and Rs 396 crore respectively. Miyar hydroelectricity project, located in Himachal Pradesh's Lahaul Spiti district, is estimated to cost Rs 1,125 crore.
The significance emanates from a letter by Indian Indus Water Commissioner PK Saxena in which he proposed to discuss highly important disputes such as the construction of Kishanganga and Ratle hydro projects on Jhelum and Chenab rivers by India.
Pakistan, however, has rejected this proposal as the matter has already been taken to the World Bank for dispute resolution.
The Indus Water Commission was set up following the Indus Waters Treaty signed by the two countries in 1960 after the World Bank succeeded in getting them reach an agreement on a water-sharing formula.
The commission has to meet at least once every year, alternately in India and Pakistan, and is responsible for the implementation of the treaty.
Today's meeting is the 113th session of the Permanent Indus Waters Commission which was established in 1960. IWT Commissioners of Pakistan and India will hold second round of talks in Islamabad on Tuesday.
Both sides on Monday discussed issues relating to water resources and dilated upon on the ways to resolve differences.
The last meeting of the commission was held in 2015.
Another meeting planned in September 2016 was cancelled due to tension following the Uri attack in which 19 Indian army soldiers were killed.
Pakistan's Minister for Water and Power Khawaja Asif said that Indus Waters Treaty is one of world agreements, which provides amicable solution of serious water issues between Pakistan and India.
Addressing a news conference here, Asif today said that Secretary level talks on Ratle hydroelectric plant will begin on 12th of next month in Washington between the two countries.
Asif expressed the hope that things will move in the positive direction as a result of meeting between Permanent Indus Commissioners of Pakistan and India.
He said outstanding problems relating to Indus Basin will be discussed during the meeting, Radio Pakistan reported.
Khawaja Asif said the two-day meeting will discuss the design aspects of Pakal Dul, Lower Kalnai and Miyar hydroelectric plants, flood data supply by India.
He said Pakistan has welcomed the readiness of India for talks at Indus Water Commissioners level.
To a question, he said Pakistan is pressing for implementation of arbitration court's decision on Kishanganga.
Pak Summons Indian Deputy HC
Pakistan on Monday summoned Indian Deputy High Commissioner JP Singh to protest the alleged ceasefire violation on the Line of Control, reports said.
“Deputy HC to Pakistan Singh was summoned today (Monday) by the Pakistan Foreign Office to protest over the alleged ceasefire violation by the Indian forces on the Line of Control,” an official from the Ministry of External Affairs, according to reports, said.
On March 18, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) in a release blamed Indian ceasefire violation along the LOC in Kot Kehtera sector for the death of a 60-year-old woman resident.