World Bank to begin processes on hydro projects under Indus Water Treaty

Addressing the failure in finding an acceptable solution in five years to the risk posed to the Indus Water Treaty (IWT), the World Bank has announced to resume two separate processes requested by India and Pakistan in connection with the Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric power plants in the Indus basin.

The decision was formally communicated in letters to India and Pakistan, the World Bank announced on Thursday night.

Ratle is an 850 MW run-of-the-river project on the Chenab river in Kishtwar district while Kishenganga is a 330 MW hydro-electric project, located in Bandipora district, both in Jammu and Kashmir.

India and Pakistan have had issues over the technical features of the project debating if the two projects contravene the IWT. “Pakistan asked the World Bank to facilitate setting up a Court of Arbitration to consider its concerns about the designs of the two hydroelectric power projects, while India asked for the appointment of a Neutral Expert for the same purpose,” the World Bank said.

On December 12, 2016, the World Bank had declared a pause in the two separate processes to allow the two countries to consider alternative ways to resolve their disagreements. Since then, the World Bank has encouraged and worked with both countries to seek an amicable resolution, it added.

Stating that multiple high-level meetings have been convened and a variety of proposals have been discussed, the World Bank said it continues to share both the countries’ concerns that carrying out the two appointments concurrently poses practical and legal risks.

“However, the lack of success in finding an acceptable solution over the past five years is also a risk to the Treaty itself,” it added.

“In arriving at the decision to resume the two processes, the Bank has carefully considered the views of all Parties involved. The World Bank remains committed to act in good faith and with complete impartiality and transparency while continuing to assist the countries and fulfilling its responsibilities under the Treaty,” the Bank statement said.

The Treaty was signed between India and Pakistan for sharing the waters of the Indus basin in 1960 after eight years of negotiations under the aegis of the World Bank.

Water from three eastern rivers, Sutlej, Beas and Ravi, has been allocated to India while water from three western rivers i.e., Indus, Jhelum and Chenab has been allocated largely to Pakistan for unrestricted use.

However, India is permitted to use the water of the western rivers for domestic, non-consumptive, agricultural use and also for the generation of hydro-electric power.

There is no exit clause in the IWT nor can either country break the treaty. But there are provisions to make mutually agreeable changes.

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