The PML-N government made a startling revelation in the Senate on Friday, saying an inquiry committee – constituted to assess negligence on part of some officials regarding violations committed by India of the Indus Water Treaty by building dozens of dams on rivers flowing into Pakistan – has exonerated all officials, including former Water Commissioner Syed Jamat Ali Shah, and no one had been held responsible for the negligence.
Earlier, Jamat Ali Shah had been accused of accepting bribes from India for his covert cooperation in the matter. Shah later left the country in January 2012 despite being put on the exit control list.
In a written reply submitted with the Senate, Minister for Water and Power Khwaja Mohammad Asif admitted the fact that India had made several violations of the treaty including violation of design criteria in case of Baglihar Hydroelectric Plant (HEP) on ChenabRiver.
However, he did not elaborate why the officials had been exonerated. The minister said that at present, two disputes were active between Pakistan and India – Kishenganga case which was in the Court of Arbitration and Wullar Barrage/Tulbul Navigation Project, which was under discussion at the government-level between the two countries.
“There were disputes between the two countries on Salal Hydropower Project and Baglihar Dam, but the first was resolved by discussions between the two governments while the later was taken to Neutral Expert who decided the matter in 2007”.
The minister added that at present, India had provided designs of four projects on ChenabRiver – Ratle Hydroelectric Project (HEP), Lower Kalnai HEP, Miyar HEP and Pakal Dul storage project.
“The designs of these projects have been evaluated by Pakistan and objections communicated to India. The objections on the first three were discussed in the last meeting of the Indus Commission held in Lahore in March 2013. Further discussions will be held on designs of all the four HEPs in the next meeting of the Indus Commission expected to be held in August 2013,” Asif said.
“In 2006, India started construction without informing Pakistan of 44MW Chutak HEP on SuruRiver, a tributary of the Indus. In August 2008, India started initial filling of dead storage of Baglihar HEP without consultation with Pakistan. India’s design which involved diversion of waters of KishengangaRiver to JhelumBasin would adversely affect environment and hydroelectric use downstream of Line of Control in AJK was without consideration of the relevant treaty provisions. Moreover, India’s design of Nimoo Bazgo HEP violated certain provisions of the Treaty,” the statement added.
However, the minister added that no inquiry had been constituted to assess negligence on part of Pakistani institutions.
“An inquiry committee was constituted against the former Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters, Syed Jamat Ali Shah. According to the findings of the committee, Shah was exonerated from the charges placed against him. As inquiry committees constituted to assess negligence on part of some officials have not held anybody responsible for negligence, the answer to this question is to be taken as nil,” the statement added.
The minister admitted that since January 2000, India committed a number of violations of the Indus Water Treaty. These pertained to the categories including not following the design criteria given in the treaty (e.g. Baglihar and Kishenganga dams), starting construction without informing Pakistan (Chutak Hydroelectric Plant constructed on a tributary of the Indus River) and not following the operational provisions (e.g. first filling of Baglihar dam).
“On all these violations, either the government of Pakistan checked Indian violation per the dispute resolution mechanism given in the treaty or did not press its objections where there was no impact on Pakistan or India provided plausible justification of its designs”.
About the steps taken by the government of Pakistan upon violations by India during the last four years, the minister stated that in case of Baglihar, Pakistan took up the case with a neutral expert who determined that Pakistan’s objections were valid in three of four design parameters on which Pakistan had objected.
“One objection pertaining to crest level of spillway was decided in India’s favour; the decision of NE on spillway clearly ignored the relevant treaty provisions. The basis on which the neutral expert gave decision has now been rejected by the Court of Arbitration in Kishenganga Case. Regarding start of construction of Chutak HEP, Pakistan commissioner for Indus Waters took up the matter with India at the highest level and India provided the design of the project in November 2007”.
The minister added that Pakistan strongly protested on initial filling of Baglihar plant without involving Pakistan and after discussions in many meetings and site visits, India assured Pakistan that it would be careful in future in such cases.
“Regarding Kishenganga, Pakistan has challenged diversion of water to Indian-held Kashmir and substantiated that the design would adversely impact the environment and hydel power generation in Pakistan, which was in violation of the treaty provisions. Proceedings of the case have been completed and Partial Award has been announced. The final decision would be given in December 2013.”
The minister added that the case of Chutak HEP has been settled at the level of Permanent Indus Commission.
With reference to taking of Nimoo-Bazgo Hydroelectric Project case to the neutral expert, the statement said the matter was considered in the backdrop of an earlier experience which Pakistan had regarding Baglihar Dam of India, in which case neutral expert had not given ruling in our favour.
“Hence, in view of this fact and in larger interest of the country, it was decided not to take the matter to the Neutral Expert. Rather, it was deemed proper to follow an alternative course of action by taking the issue of legal interpretation of certain clauses of Indus Waters Treaty to the Court of Arbitration”.