Article courtesy by TNN | Feb 20th 2013 | The Times of India
NEW DELHI: In a major victory, the International Court of Arbitration at The Hague has upheld India’s right to divert water from the Kishenganga hydro-electric project in Kashmir. The court on Monday rejected Pakistan’s contention that India was violating the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty in the project in Gurez valley near Bandipura in north Kashmir.
Reacting to the development, MEA spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, “The award of the Court of Arbitration at The Hague reaffirmed validity of India’s position regarding Kishenganga hydroelectric project (KHEP) by allowing diversion of water from the KHEP as envisaged by India.”
He added, “It highlights once again that India is adhering to all the provisions of Indus Waters Treaty.”
The judgment was received at The Hague by Indian ambassador Bhaswati Mukherjee and Pakistan’s envoy Fauzia Mazhar Sana.
Pakistan has alleged that India’s diversion of water was depriving its river Neelum of water. India has maintained that since Kishenganga is a run-of-the-river project, the diverted water was always returned to the river. The water is diverted to a power plant in the Jhelum basin. In November 2009, Pakistan had proposed the establishment of a Court of Arbitration and the appointment of a neutral expert to resolve the Kishenganga dam dispute. This was set up in 2010.
External affairs minister Salman Khurshid on Tuesday hailed the verdict. “You should congratulate us as we had put in a lot of effort. We have achieved success and you should congratulate the country for this. Our biggest problem has been solved,” he said.
Union water resources minister Harish Rawat said the court had maintained India’s position. “We are happy that finally, of course, it is an interim award, it is not the final award, but the court has maintained our position that we have not violated anything and they have maintained that India has a right to construct a certain structure there and to divert the water to another tributary and we are studying the details of the judgment,” he said.
The Court of Arbitration directed that while India had the right to divert water for the power project, it stopped India from using a technique called drawdown — of flushing for clearing the sedimentation of the project that had been designed and asked it to adopt a different technique for generation of 330 mw of power.
India says this is a modern technique to remove sedimentation, but Pakistan has argued against this. The court upheld the Pakistani position on this issue. India was allowed by the neutral expert in the Baglihar project to use modern technologies like flushing to remove sedimentation. That appears to have been reversed in the present judgment.
In June 2011, members from the Court of Arbitration visited India as well as Pakistan for inspection of the site.
Under the Indus Waters Treaty, India is allowed the use of eastern rivers in the Indus system and can only use the western rivers for non-consumptive use or for power projects. India has not utilized even half of this right granted under the treaty.
a.) The Indus system of rivers comprises three eastern rivers (Ravi, Beas and Sutlej and their tributaries) and three western rivers (Indus, Jhelum and Chenab and their tributaries)
b.) The Indus Waters Treaty, 1960 was signed on 19.09.1960 between India and Pakistan. It is, however, effective from 01.04.1960.
c.) Under the treaty, the waters of eastern rivers are allocated to India. India is under obligation to let flow the waters of the western rivers except for the following uses:
i.) Domestic use
ii.) Non-consumptive use
iii.) Agricultural use as specified
iv.) Generation of hydro-electric power as specified
Pakistan’s grouse on water issues:
* India is stealing or diverting waters that belong to Pakistan
* Pakistan’s water scarcity is caused by India
* India is misusing the provisions of the Indus treaty. Indian projects on the western rivers are violative of the treaty.