Pakistan, India to hold talks on water issues on May 30-31 in New Delhi

Islamabad, May 28 (KMS): : Pakistan and India are going to hold two days of talks at the level of Permanent Commission of Indus Waters (PCIW) on water issues on May 30-31, 2022, in New Delhi.

Both sides would deliberate on the issue of advance flood information and the annual report of PCIW too. Both sides would also deliberate on 1,000 MW Pakal Dul under Article IX of the Indus Waters Treaty, 48 MW Lower Kalnai and 624 MW Kiru project hydropower projects being built by India on Pakistani rivers.

Pakistan’s five-member delegation, headed by Commissioner for Indus Waters Syed Mehr Ali Shah, and comprising Chief Engineer of Punjab Irrigation Department, DG Met Office, GM NESPAK and a female DG MOFA on India Desk, would leave for New Delhi on May 29 (tomorrow). Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has also approved the visit to India at the PCIW level.

“We are going tomorrow (May 29) to India through Wagah border where in Pakistan and India would hold PCIW level talks in New Delhi for two days i.e. May 30-31. The Pakistan delegation will come back on June 1, 2021,” Syed Mehr Ali Shah told the media. “This would be the 118th bilateral meeting at the PCIW level. Earlier, both countries held three-day talks in Islamabad on March 2-4, 2022.”

To a question, he said the Pakistan delegation would not visit any hydropower project being constructed on Pakistan rivers such as Jehlum and Chenab. However, both sides would also hold further talks on some projects which in Pakistan’s viewpoint are not as per the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty 1960.

During three days talks held in Islamabad on March 2-4,2022, the official sources told media that Pakistan had raised objections 1,000 MW Pakal Dul under Article IX of the Indus Waters Treaty and 48 MW Lower Kalnai hydropower projects continue to exist. “Pakistan had also raised some more queries on clarifications given by the Indian side on the 624 MW Kiru project. India had shared some data about the Kiru project during the last talks in Islamabad.”

Pakistan still is of the view that the design of spillways and free board of Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai are violative of the Indus Waters Treaty. India says that designs of the projects are in line with the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty. However, both sides would also deliberate on Pakal Dul in the coming two-day meeting to be held in New Delhi on May 30-31, 2022.

Official sources said that in the forthcoming meeting in New Delhi at the PCIW level, if the objections on Pakal Dul are not addressed by India, then next provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty would be exhausted, meaning that the issues of Pakal Dul will be taken on the government level. If it is not resolved at the government level, then Pakistan will either move the forum of Neutral Expert or International Court of Justice for solution of the dispute. On the Lower Kalnai project (48MW), Pakistan wants the freeboard to be one meter in length, while India insists on a 2-meter length.

In the meeting held in Islamabad, India had informed Pakistan that the construction work on Lower Kalnai project has been stopped since the last flood damaged it. Now India is going to restart construction work but after its design was reviewed. However, Pakistan asked India to share its reviewed design on time and the Indian side responded positively.

In the Islamabad meeting, both parties had also discussed Pakistan’s question furnished under Article-IX on Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai (48MW). Pakistan also raised objections on Tamasha Hydro Electric Power (HEP), Kalaroos-II HEP, Baltikulan Small, Darbuk Shyok HEP, Nummu Chilling HEP, Kargil Hunderman HEP, Phagla HEP, Mandi HEP, and Kulan Ramwari HEP. Most of these projects are being built on Pakistan’s main river Indus in Ladakh.

Pakistan had also sought the data on above-mentioned small hydropower projects of 25 MW each being constructed on Pakistan rivers. The Indian side had said that the state governments are constructing these small projects and it will get the required data from them, which will later be shared with Pakistani authorities in the meeting to be held in New Delhi.

“Pakistan wants India to restore sharing of the flood data based on humanitarian grounds, which New Delhi continued to share from 1989 till 2018 and then started reducing share of data with Pakistan in 2019. Pakistan pleads that the flood data sharing is imperative for the Pakistan side to come into action on time to avoid catastrophic impact of flood on human lives,” the official said.