Pakistan, India to hold water talks in Washington next week

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Pakistani (L) and Indian flags stand on a table during an Indian-Pakistan meeting on the Sir Creek region in New Delhi on June 18, 2012. Pakistan and India started two-day talks in New Delhi to resolve their maritime boundary dispute in the Sir Creek region. Sir Creek, which opens up into the Arabian Sea dividing the Kutch region of the Indian state of Gujarat with the Sindh province of Pakistan, is a 96-km strip of water that is disputed between India and Pakistan. AFP PHOTO / Prakash SINGH

WASHINGTON: As the dispute between India and Pakistan over the construction of two hydroelectric projects in Jammu and Kashmir remains unresolved, both the countries will hold another round of discussion in Washington next week (September 14-15) in presence of World Bank officials to reach an acceptable solution.

“It will be a technical discussion on Ratle and Kishanganga hydroelectric projects”, said an official. The first round of such discussion had taken place in Washington during July 31 and August 1.

A multi-disciplinary Indian delegation, led by Water Resources Secretary Amarjit Singh, will head for the US amid indications that the country is not keen to alter design of the two contentious projects – Ratle and Kishanganga – in Jammu and Kashmir as it believes that the construction would not, in any case, interfere with the agreed points between India and Pakistan under the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty (IWT).

Pakistan had approached the World Bank last year, raising its objections over designs of the two under-constructed projects which India wants to complete as early as possible to utilise its legitimate share of water under the IWT. Pakistan believes that the existing designs of the projects would not let adequate water to flow to its side.

India and Pakistan currently disagree over whether the technical design features of the two hydroelectric plants – Kishanganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts) – contravene the IWT. The World Bank is not financing any of these projects.

The Kishanganga plant is proposed on a tributary of the Jhelum River while the Ratle will come up on the Chenab River. The Treaty designates these two rivers as well as the Indus as the “Western Rivers” to which Pakistan has rights of unrestricted use.

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