India building another controversial hydropower project on River Chenab

Islamabad: India has started constructing the first-ever hydropower project on Maru Sadar, the right bank tributary of the River Chenab that violates the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) 1960.

Islamabad and New Delhi are already in a legal battle in the court of arbitration and neutral experts, the two international forums on the faulty designs of 330MW Kishanganga and 850 MW Ratle hydropower projects being built on Pakistan’s rivers.

Pakistan has objected to the designs of the hydropower project which has live dam storage of 99,000 acre-feet and a capacity to generate 1,000MW hydropower generation.

India is pretending that it would have live storage of 88,000 acre-feet with a faulty design of spillways in sheer violation of the IWT 1960, according to experts. The project will be completed within two years.

But Pakistan has already invoked Article 9 of the Treaty, under Paragraph 11 of Annexure-E, on the project’s spillways and free board designs way back one-and-a-half years ago.

“We are observing the said project and have already raised objections on its design under Article 9. We would again raise the issue under Article 9 of the treaty with the Indian side at PCIW level talks, which may be held before March 2024,” a senior official of Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters (PCIW) told a media outlet.

If talks under Article 9 fail, the Pakistan side will start exhausting other endeavours mentioned in the Indus Waters Treaty, and after that in case no resolution is attained, Pakistan will be left with no option but to move a court of arbitration on the particular project.

Meanwhile, India has expedited its construction work for two more projects — the Kiru and Kwar upstream Ratle project on the Chenab River with designs that are in sheer breach of provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960.

Pakistan has objected to the designs of the Kiru hydropower project of 624MW and the Kwar hydroelectric power project of 540MW in its recent interaction with India at the level of the PIWC. India is bound to share the designs of its projects with Pakistan under the agreement.

The Kiru hydropower project is being built along the River Chenab near the villages of Patharnakki and Kiru, approximately 42 kilometres from Kishtwar. It will be located between the Kirthai-II hydroelectric project to its upstream and the Kwar hydroelectric project to its downstream.

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