India, Pakistan attend meeting in Vienna on water dispute


Vienna: The officials from Pakistan and India joined proceedings at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Vienna to settle the row over Pakistan’s objection to the Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric projects of India.

According to Kashmir Media Service, the meeting was convened by a neutral expert appointed by the World Bank on New Delhi’s request under the aegis of the Indus Waters Treaty on Wednesday and Thursday.

The Court of Arbitration, constituted by the World Bank in The Hague, in July this year rejected New Delhi’s objections and concluded that it had the competence to adjudicate Pakistan’s objection to the Kishenganga and Ratle HEPs of India. India earlier had not participated in the proceeding at the Court of Arbitration instituted by the World Bank itself in The Hague at the request of Pakistan for adjudication of the same dispute over the two hydroelectric projects or HEPs. Pakistan, however, this week participated in the neutral expert proceeding instituted at the request of India.

The Indus Water Treaty (IWT), which governs the sharing of water of the common rivers by India and Pakistan, had created a Permanent Indus Commission (PIC), to oversee the implementation of the agreement. It had laid out distinct procedures to deal with “questions”, “differences” and “disputes”.

A “dispute” was to be referred to the “Court of Arbitration” – an arbitral tribunal comprising seven members. The IWT had assigned the World Bank, which had also been a signatory of the treaty, the task of appointing a neutral expert or a Court of Arbitration when requested by either or both of the parties. Islamabad had in 2015 requested the World Bank to appoint a ‘neutral expert’ to examine its objections to the technical design features of two hydroelectric projects of India – the 330 MW Kishenganga Hydroelectric Project and 850 MW Ratle Hydro Electric Projects. It, however, had in 2016 retracted the request and proposed that a Court of Arbitration should adjudicate on its objections. New Delhi had on the other hand asked the World Bank to appoint a neutral expert to settle the differences.

The World Bank had in October 2022 appointed Michel Lino as the neutral expert and Sean Murphy as the chairman of the Court of Arbitration.

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