ISLAMABAD – India has approached the Hague-based International Court of Arbitration (ICA) to vacate the stay order earlier got by Pakistan to halt construction of Kishanganga project in Jammu & Kashmir, reliable sources told TheNation on Thursday. In 1960, Pakistan and India hammered out the Indus Water Treaty, which governs the sharing of water on rivers heading downstream from India to Pakistan.
However, India had been racing to complete the 330Mega Watt Kishanganga project which would have diverted the River Neelam to Wullar Lake, leaving very little water for the Pakistani project, which is a mere 70 kilometres downstream from Kishanganga thus would cause reducing the power generation capacity of the 969 MW Neelum-Jhelum plant by about 11 per cent. Upon this, on May 17, 2010, Pakistan had instituted arbitrary proceedings against the India under the Indus Waters Treaty 1960 and approached the International Court of Arbitration (ICA) against the violation of the treaty and gotten a reprieve from the International Court of Arbitration (ICA) in a case against India regarding the construction of 330 MW Kishanganga hydro-power project being built on Neelum Jhelum River as farmers were facing acute shortage of water to meet energy and irrigation needs.
The seven-member International Court of Arbitration (ICA) barred India from undertaking any permanent works above the riverbed level at the Gurez site of the Kishanganga hydel project dam. Due to the effect of the stay order reportedly work had been stopped more than one year. Sources aware of the matter disclosed to TheNation that neighboring India had contacted the ICA seeking vacation of the stay order got by Pakistan in October 2011. They said due to disputed Kishanganga Dam, work on Neelum Jhelum hydro-power project had been badly affected.
A four-month delay had inadequately caused the lapsed insurance of the tunnel boring machine of Neelum Jhelum project because India stopped the international companies to give insurance to the tunnel-boring machine required for Neelum Jhelum hydro-power project.
However, Pakistan has made this insurance possible with Rs1.2billion payments and the tunnel-boring machine will start work within two weeks on the Neelum Jhelum project. At present Pakistan is facing financial hardship in implementing the Neelum Jhelum project. The Water and Power Development Authority (Wapda) is also facing internal problems to generate funds for project and the finance ministry was reportedly not forthcoming in helping arrange funds, sources added.
An official of water & power ministry told this scribe that Pakistan needs Rs2 billion on a monthly basis to continue work on the Neelum Jhelum project. Due to the undue delay in the proper commencement of the Neelum Jhelum project, the cost of the project has ballooned from 84.5 billion to a staggering Rs 274.8 billion, which might result in an exorbitant power generation cost of over Rs 10 per unit, against the existing hydroelectric generation cost of 16 paisa per unit. The burden of the costs arising out of delays and inefficiency is also expected to be transferred to consumers, as the government has decided to arrange 40 per cent of the required funds through a levy on consumed energy imposed by the Government of Pakistan.
It is matter of deep concern that permanent works above the riverbed is not allowed. But India went ahead with construction of powerhouse, tunneling works, constructing coffer dams, temporary bypass tunnel and concretisation under the riverbed for the dam. The controversy owes its genesis to India’s plan to build a 330-megawatt hydro-power plant in Indian-held Kashmir across the Jhelum River. The dam site is located 160 km upstream from Muzaffarabad andinvolves the diversion of Kishanganga River (called the Neelum Riverin Pakistan) to a tributary named Bunar Madumati Nullah of Jhelum nearBunkot. The diversion will change the course of the Neelum by about100 km, which will then join the Jhelum through Wullar lake near thetown of Bandipur in Baramula district. As a result of this diversion,the Neelum and Jhelum rivers, which at present join each other nearMuzaffarabad at Domail, will meet in Indian-held Kashmir.