India Pakistan Indus Commissioners to meet in March

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New Delhi, Feb 3

 The design of the 624 MW power project on the Chenab in the Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir is likely to be among the issues discussed at the next meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission as part of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT).

Article VIII (5) of the IWT says: "The Commission shall meet regularly at least once a year, alternately in India and Pakistan."

The Indus Commissioners from India and Pakistan had met in March 2021. "Under the provisions of the Treaty, the Commission shall meet regularly at least once a year, alternately in India and Pakistan. The last meeting was held in New Delhi on March 23, 24, 2021. So, the next meeting is due," Indus Commissioner P.K. Saxena said.

The dates of the meeting – mostly likely to be held in March – are yet to be decided. The agenda for the meeting would be finalised only after the dates are fixed.

Amongst the likely subjects to be discussed would be Pakistan's objection to the design of the power project over Chenab. In August 2021, Pakistan's Indus Commissioner Syed Muhammad Meher Ali Shah had raised objection to the design of the run-of-the-river Kiru project.

Saxena had then said, the design is fully compliant as per the provisions of the IWT.

The concrete gravity Kiru project is located in Kishtwar district of J&K. The Rs 4,287.59 crore (at 2018 level) project by Chenab Valley Power Projects Ltd, is a joint venture between NHPC Lt and Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation (JKSPDC).

Under the 1960 vintage IWT, India and Pakistan share the waters of six rivers in the Indus basin that flow through India towards Pakistan. Of these, India has complete rights over three eastern rivers – Sutlej, Beas and Ravi, while Pakistan has right over the western rivers Chenab, Jhelum, and Indus.

India can, however, build run-of-the-river projects on the western rivers. Pakistan gets almost 80 per cent share of the Indus basin waters (approx 135 MAF) against India's 33 MAF.

Incidentally, in August 2021 itself, a Parliamentary Standing Committee had recommended that India should renegotiate the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) with Pakistan in view of the "present day pressing issues such as climate change, global warming and environmental impact assessment".

However, the Permanent Indus Commission has no role in the policy decision.


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