Fresh invite comes after India postponed a similar visit in October mandated under provisions of the Indus Water Treaty.
New Delhi: India has once again invited the Pakistan Indus water commissioner to visit two hydropower projects that the government is building on the Chenab. The Centre has offered to allow the commissioner to visit the sites between 27 January and 1 February as Islamabad has objected to the construction on the grounds that the dams will divert its share of water.
The fresh invite comes three months after India postponed a scheduled visit by a Pakistan team to see the projects last October due to elections to local bodies in Jammu and Kashmir.
The two projects are the 1,000 MW Pakuldul on Chenab and the 43 MW Lower Kalnai hydro project on Lower Kalnai Nalla, a tributary of the river.
“The visit by the Pakistan Indus water commissioner is under the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT),” a senior official of the Union Water Resources Ministry told ThePrint Friday.
“The Indian commissioner for Indus water has extended a fresh invite after the last scheduled visit for last October got postponed.”
During the 115th meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission held in Lahore last August, the first since Imran Khan took over as Prime Minister, India had rejected the objections raised by Pakistan and had invited the latter to visit the two projects.
Under the provision of the Indus Water Treaty signed between the two countries in 1960, the waters of the eastern rivers — Sutlej, Beas and Ravi — have been allocated to India. The waters from the western rivers — Indus, Jhelum and Chenab — have been allocated to Pakistan except for certain uses allowed to India which include generation of hydro-power through run-of-the-river plants.
First tour of Pakistan commissioner in current five-year block
Under Article VIII of the treaty, both the commissioners are mandated to undertake once every five years a general tour of the rivers to ascertain the facts connected with various development works on both sides.
“So far, no tour could be held in the current five-year block that ends in March 2020,” the official, who did not want to be named, said.
The official added that during the August 2018 meeting in Lahore, both commissioners had agreed to undertake the mandated tours on both sides of the Indus basin.
A second ministry official said that the water allotted to India from the western rivers has the potential to generate 18,569MW of hydropower. However, so far India has developed infrastructure to harness only about 3,500 MW, the official added.
The official further said that India can use water to irrigate approximately 13.4 lakh acres but has so far only utilised the water for 8 lakh acres.
After the terrorist attack in Uri in 2016, in which 19 soldiers were killed by suspected Pakistani terrorists, India had decided to exercise its rights to use its share of water permissible under the Indus Water Treaty for meeting its power and agricultural requirements.
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