ISLAMABAD Pakistan will allow India to inspect the Kotri barrage in the lower Indus, while New Delhi has agreed to Islamabad’s request for a special inspection of the hydroelectric projects in the Jhelum river basin, including the Kishanganga scheme, a Pakistani media report said Tuesday.
The decision was taken during last week’s meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission held in Lahore, the first official engagement between India and Pakistan since Imran Khan became Prime Minister on August 18.
“During the meeting both the sides agreed to conduct the general tours of inspection which could not be conducted since 2014,” the Dawn newspaper reported.
“The Pakistani Commissioner for Indus Waters (PCIW) will visit the Chenab basin in the last week of September 2018, followed by a tour of Indian Commissioner for Indus Water (ICIW) to the Kotri barrage in the lower Indus,” the report said quoting the minutes of the Permanent Indus Commission meeting held on August 29 and 30.
Kotri Barrage is a barrage on the Indus River between Jamshoro and Hyderabad in Pakistan’s Sindh province. It was completed in 1955, and used to control water flow in the Indus river for irrigation and flood control purposes.
“Pakistan also urged India to arrange for the special tour of inspection of the projects in the Jhelum basin, including the Kishanganga hydroelectric project (HEP) which is pending since 2014, on which the ICIW gave his assurance to arrange the same promptly,” the report claimed.
According to a senior Pakistani official, the inspection by a Pakistani team is likely to be held on the eve of the next meeting of the Commission.
“Since the talks between the two countries have been restored, Pakistani team may inspect the Kishanganga project on the eve of the next meeting of the permanent commission for the Indus waters in India or before this,” he was quoted as saying in the report.
Islamabad had been objecting to the proposed Rs 5,882-crore run-of-the-river hydroelectric dam project in Bandipore in Jammu and Kashmir, claiming it would affect the flow of the Kishanganga River (called the Neelum River in Pakistan).
Pakistan had also raised concerns over the inauguration of the 330-MW Kishanganga hydropower plant by India during talks with the World Bank in Washington in June.
The two sides also agreed to undertake tours by their Commissioners in the Indus basin on both sides to resolve issues on the various hydroelectric projects (HEPs), including the Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai in the state of Jammu and Kashmir.
“Their (Indian experts’) visit to Pakistan will be after our experts end the inspection of the Lower Kalnai and Pakal Dul projects, scheduled by the end of this month,” the official said.
India and Pakistan signed the Indus Water Treaty in 1960 after nine years of negotiations, with the World Bank being a signatory.
Under the provisions of the Treaty, waters of the eastern rivers – Sutlej, Beas and Ravi – had ben allocated to India and the western rivers – the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab – to Pakistan, except for certain non-consumptive uses for India.
The treaty sets out a mechanism for cooperation and information exchange between the two countries regarding their use of the rivers. However, there have been disagreements and differences between India and Pakistan over the treaty.