Tuesday, February 7, 2023

World Bank Makes Appointments Under the Indus Waters Treaty

Date:

In line with its responsibilities under the Indus Waters Treaty, the World Bank has made the appointments that it was mandated to make in the two separate processes requested by India and Pakistan in relation to the Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric power plants.

The two countries disagree over whether the technical design features of these two hydroelectric plants contravene the Treaty. Pakistan asked the World Bank to facilitate the establishment of a Court of Arbitration to consider its concerns about the designs of the two hydroelectric power projects, while India asked for the appointment of a Neutral Expert to consider similar concerns over the two projects.

Mr. Michel Lino has been appointed as the Neutral Expert and Prof. Sean Murphy has been appointed as Chairman of the Court of Arbitration. They will carry out their duties in their individual capacity as subject matter experts and independently of any other appointments they may currently hold.

The World Bank continues to share the concerns of the parties that carrying out the two processes concurrently poses practical and legal challenges. The World Bank is confident that the highly qualified experts appointed as Neutral Experts and as members of the Court of Arbitration will engage in fair and careful consideration of their jurisdictional mandate, as they are empowered to do by the Treaty.

ABOUT

River Indus: Geographic Location 

  • The Indus is a transboundary river of Asia and a trans-Himalayan river of South and Central Asia.  
  • The 3,120 km (1,940 mi) river rises in mountain springs northeast of Mount Kailash in Western Tibet, flows northwest through the disputed region of Kashmir, bends sharply to the left after the Nanga Parbat massif, and flows south-by-southwest through Pakistan, before emptying into the Arabian Sea near the port city of Karachi.
  • The river has historically been important to many cultures of the region.

The Indus Water treaty, 1960 

  • The Indus system comprises of main Indus River, Jhelum, Chenab, Ravi, Beas, and Sutlej.
  • The basin is mainly shared by India and Pakistan with a small share of China and Afghanistan.
  • Under the treaty signed between India and Pakistan in 1960, all the waters of three rivers, namely Ravi, Sutlej, and Beas (Eastern Rivers) were allocated to India for exclusive use.
  • While, the waters of Western rivers – Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab were allocated to Pakistan except for specified domestic, non-consumptive, and agricultural use permitted to India as provided in the Treaty.
  • India has also been given the right to generate hydroelectricity through run-of-the-river (RoR) projects on the Western Rivers which, subject to specific criteria for design and operation is unrestricted.

What is the Dispute all about between India and Pakistan?

  • Both countries held different positions when Pakistan raised objections regarding the technical design features of the Kishanganga (330MW) and Ratle (850 MW) hydroelectric power plants located on the tributaries of the Jhelum and the Chenab, respectively, designated as “Western Rivers”.
  • However, under Articles III and VII of the treaty, India is permitted to construct hydroelectric power facilities on these rivers (subject to constraints specified in Annexures to the Treaty).
  • Differences were also discernible when Pakistan approached the World Bank to facilitate the setting up of a court of arbitration to address the concerns related to these two projects referred to in Article IX Clause 5 of the treaty, and when India requested the appointment of a Neutral Expert referent to Clause 2.1 of Article IX on the settlement of differences and dispute of the treaty, respectively.
  • Pakistan, invoking Article VII Clause 2 on future cooperation, raised objections on the construction and technical designs of the Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai hydropower plants located on the Marusudar River, a tributary of the Chenab, in the  Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir.
  • India has raised concerns on issues such as Pakistan’s blockade of the Fazilka drain, which resulted in water contamination in the border areas.

Recent Developments by India:

To stop the flow of the waters that belong to India for its utilization in India, the following steps have been taken:

  • Shahpurkandi Project
  • Construction of Ujh multipurpose project
  • The 2nd Ravi Beas link below Ujh

Source: Theworldbank, Iasscore

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