An Indian delegation of 10 members will visit Pakistan from 1-3 March for the annual meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission

Pakistan had raised objections to the construction of Salal hydroelectric project in 1970 in Jammu and Kashmir. The dispute was later resolved with minor changes to its design.

An Indian delegation of 10 members will visit Pakistan from 1-3 March for the annual meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission.

While the agenda of the meeting is yet to be finalised, it is likely that Pakistan's objections on some of the Indian hydroelectric projects and few small hydroelectric projects in Ladakh will be on the agenda for discussion.

Pakistan may raise objections to India’s hydroelectric projects, namely Pakal Dul (1,000 MW), Lower Kalnai (48 MW) and Kiru (624 MW) in Chenab basin in Jammu and Kashmir.

As per the Press Trust of India, three female officers will be part of the Indian delegation for the first time since the Indus Waters Treaty was signed in 1960.

Last year, a delegation led by the Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters had visited India for the annual meeting.

Let’s take a look at the Indus Waters Treaty that has survived frequent tensions and has provided a framework for irrigation and hydropower development for more than 60 years:

What Is The Indus Waters Treaty

The treaty was signed between then-Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and then-Pakistan President Ayub Khan on 19 September, 1960.

The treaty was signed after nine years of negotiations with the help of the World Bank.

The treaty allocates the western rivers – Indus, Jhelum, Chenab – and their tributaries to Pakistan and the eastern rivers – Ravi, Beas, Sutlej – and their tributaries to India.

The treaty also allows each country certain uses on the rivers allocated to the respective other country.

The Indus Waters Treaty sets out a mechanism for cooperation and information exchange between the two countries regarding their use of the rivers, known as the Permanent Indus Commission, which has a commissioner from each country.

As per the World Bank, the treaty also describes distinct procedures to handle issues which may arise: “questions” are handled by the Commission; “differences” are to be resolved by a Neutral Expert; and “disputes” are to be referred to a seven-member arbitral tribunal called the “Court of Arbitration.”

Objection To India’s Hydroelectric Projects

According to the treaty, India has been given the right to generate hydroelectricity through run-of-the-river projects on the western rivers subject to specific criteria for design and operation.

The pact also gives the right to Pakistan to raise objections to designs of Indian hydroelectric projects on the western rivers. Pakistan has raised objections on the design of Pakal Dul (1,000 MW), Lower Kalnai (48 MW) and Kiru (624 MW) projects in Chenab basin.

Pakistan had earlier objected to the Kishanganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts) hydroelectric power plants that are on tributaries of Jhelum and Chenab.

Pakistan’s objections were rejected by the court of arbitration and allowed India to go ahead with the Kishanganga and Ratle hydroelectric projects.

Previously, Pakistan had objected to the construction of Salal dam on Chenab river in 1970. The work could only resume after the dispute was resolved in 1978 with some changes to the design as objected by Pakistan.

In 2007, some of Pakistan’s objections over the Baglihar dam were upheld by a Neutral Expert appointed by the World Bank. Its construction started in 1999 and finished in 2008.

India, however, asserts that the design of the latest projects is fully compliant with the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty and certified by the Central Water Commission and the Central Electricity Authority, the apex organisations of the country in the field of water resources and power.

Under the provisions of Article VIII(5) of the Indus Waters Treaty, the Permanent Indus Commission is required to meet regularly at least once a year, alternately in India and Pakistan. The last meeting of the Commission was held on 23-24 March, 2021 in New Delhi.