India invites Pakistan experts to visit 2 hydropower projects on Chenab

• India has invited Pakistani experts to visit the sites of its two hydropower projects on the Chenab river next month to address its concerns but hinted at the continuation of the work on them despite Islamabad’s objections, a senior Pakistani official has said.

• After the conclusion of the two-day high-level bilateral talks on the Indus Waters Treaty, the first official engagement between India and Pakistan since Imran Khan became Prime Minister. India rejected Pakistan’s objections on the construction of the 1,000 MW Pakal Dul dam and 48 MW Lower Kalnai hydropower projects on the Chenab river.

• The major breakthrough of the two-day talks held in Lahore is that India has agreed to get the projects’ sites visited by our experts.

• During the visit the experts will minutely examine the sites, construction in the light of the provisions of the Indus Water Treaty and the objections raised by Pakistan.

• It was mutually decided that both countries would separately prepare technical memorandums based on their point of view and possible solutions.

• According to an official privy to the meeting, Pakistan’s demands included reduction of the height of Pakal Dul’s reservoir up to five metres, maintenance of a 40-metre height above sea level while making spillways’ gates of the Pakal Dul project, besides clarifying the pattern and mechanism for the water storage and releases and some technical concerns over design of the Lower Kalnai hydropower project.

• India and Pakistan signed the Indus Waters Treaty in 1960 after nine years of negotiations, with the World Bank being a signatory.

• The water commissioners of Pakistan and India are required to meet twice a year and arrange technical visits to projects’ sites and critical river head works.

• The last meeting of the Pakistan – India Permanent Indus Commission was held in New Delhi in March during which both the sides had shared details of the water flow and the quantum of water being used under the 1960 treaty.

• 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.

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