Talks between India and Pakistan over the 330MW Kishenganga dam in the Gurez valley, India, broke down this week.
Much like the Baglihar dam disagreement, Pakistan is concerned that the project will jeapodise its portion of waters from a river it shares with neighbours India, and is consulting the Indus Water Treaty (1960) for guidance. The planned five-day talks collapsed on Tuesday, with the Indian side’s refusal to accept Pakistan’s labelling of the issue as a ‘dispute’ being the final straw, according to reports on TriuneIndia.com.
Officials from the Permanent Indus Water Commissions (PIWC) of both countries began the talks last Saturday, in Lahore, Pakistan, following two previous formal meetings held in the last six months.
D K Mehta, India’s Commissioner for PIWC, said that he and his Pakistani counterpart Jamat Ali Skah had agreed to disagree, but would hold another discussion at the annual meeting of the PIWC later this month in New Delhi.
As in the Baglihar case, Pakistan now reserves the right to seek an independent arbitrator to help resolve the issue, with the World Bank, broker of the Indus Water Treaty, again in contention.
According to several reports, India and Pakistan have decided on a three-month window, expiring on 15 July, to resolve their differences over Kishenganga, and both sides have also agreed to authorise visits to the site.
However, the Indian delegation has rejected Pakistan’s request to stop work altogether.
The Kishenganga project is a plan to build a 103m high dam on the Kishenganga river in the Gurez valley, creating a large reservoir from which a channel and a 27km tunnel dug south through the North Kashmir mountain range would re-direct waters to the Wular lake at Bandipur, where a hydroelectric project would be built at Wular barge. The river would be diverted a total distance of 100km.
The project has an estimated cost of US$500M and has been set up by the specially formed Kishenganga Group of Contractors, which consists of a Swedish consortium, Skanksa International and domestic companies including Power Development Corporation.
India and Pakistan recently agreed on WB recommended neutral arbitrator Professor Raymond Lafitte, a civil engineer and professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, to help them settle the Baglihar affair.