A 10-member Indian delegation will visit Pakistan from March 1-3 for the Permanent Indus Commission’s annual meeting, according to a top Jal Shakti Ministry official. Three female officers will be part of the Indian delegation, which will advise the Indian Commissioner on various matters during the meeting, in a first since the two nations signed the Indus Water Treaty, the official added.
Last year Pakistan visited India for Indus Treaty Meeting
The Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters led a group to India for the annual meeting last year. “The Permanent Indus Commission’s annual meeting will be held in Islamabad, Pakistan, between March 1 and 3, 2022,” Indian Commissioner for Indus Waters Pradeep Kumar Saxena told PTI. Mr. Saxena’s advisors from the Central Water Commission, Central Electricity Authority, National Hydroelectric Power Corporation, and Ministry of External Affairs will be part of the trip.
Syed Muhammad Mehar Ali Shah, Pakistan’s Commissioner for Indus Waters, will lead the Pakistani delegation. The Indian delegation would travel to Pakistan via the Atari border on February 28 and return on March 4 using the same route.
Officials stated the agenda for the meeting is currently being finalized by the two Commissioners. Pakistan’s objections to Indian hydroelectric projects in the Chenab basin in Jammu and Kashmir, including Pakal Dul (1,000 MW), Lower Kalnai (48 MW), and Kiru (624 MW), as well as a few other hydroelectric projects in Ladakh, are expected to be discussed.
Treaty gives the right to India to generate Hydroelectricity
According to the treaty, India has been granted the right to generate hydroelectricity through run-of-river projects on western rivers, subject to certain design and operating conditions.
The treaty also grants Pakistan the right to protest Indian hydroelectric project designs on the western rivers. Pakistan has raised concerns about the project’s design.
India, on the other hand, claims that the project’s design is entirely consistent with the rules of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) and has been certified by the Central Water Commission and the Central Electricity Authority, the country’s main bodies in the fields of water and electricity.
Mr. Saxena stated that the Indian side will communicate its viewpoint to Pakistan at the upcoming meeting. His concerns about Pakistan will be “addressed peacefully through continuous bilateral dialogue in the spirit of the treaty,” he said.
All the waters of the eastern rivers – Sutlej, Beas, and Ravi – equal to roughly 33 million acre-feet (MAF) yearly are allotted to India for unrestricted use under the IWT agreed between India and Pakistan in 1960.
The waters of the western rivers – the Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab – total roughly 135 MAF per year and are mostly assigned to Pakistan. India is allowed to build run-of-river facilities on western rivers with little storage, as long as it meets the treaty’s standards.
The Permanent Indus Commission is obligated to meet at least once a year, alternately in India and Pakistan, under the provisions of Article VIII(5) of the Indus Waters Treaty. The Commission’s most recent meeting was conducted in New Delhi on March 23-24, 2021.