Islamabad, Mar 21 (PTI) India and Pakistan would hold three-day secretary-level talks on the Kishanganga and Ratle hydropower projects from April 11 in Washington following the “intervention” by the US and the World Bank, a senior Pakistani minister has said.
Speaking on the sidelines of the two-day talks between Indus Water Commissioners from both sides, Water and Power Minister Khawaja Asif welcomed India’s decision to resume negotiations under the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty on the proposed Pakul Dal, Miyar and Lower Kalnai hydropower projects, disputed by Pakistan.
“The US has intervened at the highest level to help both countries resolve the issue. There will be secretary-level talks on the Ratle and Kishanganga hydropower projects in Washington on April 11, 12 and 13,” he said at a press conference.
“We are happy that India has finally agreed to resume talks at the commission level. We welcome this decision and the visit of the Indian delegation,” Dawn newspaper quoted Asif as saying.
The 10-member Indian delegation currently in Islamabad is led by Indian Indus Water Commissioner P K Saxena.
Asif said Pakistan would be in a position to protect its rights on the Ratle hydroelectric project, adding that the country s stance had not been negated at any level, the paper reported.
He refused to speculate whether or not the water talks could ultimately lead to the resumption of composite dialogue.
“We want that India should share the design of the three proposed projects, and if they hurt Pakistan s interests, then objections will be raised at the appropriate forum; this is our right. Since the treaty was signed, 116 project inspection visits have been undertaken,” he said.
Pakistan has been protesting over the design and construction of the two projects the 330MW Kishanganga hydroelectric project and the 850MW Ratle hydroelectric project in Jammu and Kashmir.
Islamabad has been demanding international arbitration through the World Bank the so-called guarantor of the 1960 treaty.
The minister said Pakistan had decided to seek international arbitration following the failure of secretary-level talks on the Ratle project on July 14-15 in New Delhi. Pakistan, he said, had objection over the project design.
The minister claimed that the World Bank-sponsored International Court of Arbitration had given its verdict in Pakistan’s favour over the Kishanganga project and Islamabad is now demanding that it be implemented.
The minister, however, conceded that the Kishanganga project would affect the generation capacity of the 969MW Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower plant, which is located downstream of the proposed Indian project, by about 10pc.
He said India had not shared the design of these projects with Pakistan, as required under the treaty, adding that Islamabad had serious reservations over these projects and believed they would give India the capacity to impede water flows to Pakistan.
This is published unedited from the PTI feed.