Pakistan, India stick to guns over Kishanganga power project
05 September, 2012
ISLAMABAD: In a crucial two-week-long hearing of a case filed by Pakistan against India in the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) over the controversial 330MW Kishanganga Hydroelectricity Project (KHEP), both sides stuck to their positions and argued strongly to defend their postures.
A document revealed that Indian authorities strongly defended their posture, however the Pakistani side was yet to provide evidence to strengthen its position in the case.
Diplomatic sources informed this scribe that the PCA has reserved its decision until the end of this year; however, according to some reports, the court upheld the stay order until the final decision of the case.
During hearing of the case, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Water Resources and Agriculture Kamal Majidullah spoke on behalf of Pakistan. He described the "Solomonic solution" adopted by India and Pakistan in the Indus Waters Treaty for apportionment of the rivers of the Indus system between the two states, emphasising that India should not interfere with the flow of waters of the Western Rivers allocated to Pakistan, including the River Jhelum and its tributaries.
Pakistan maintained that India's plan to construct the KHEP on the River Kishanganga (Neelum), which includes diversion of its waters, was in breach of India's obligations under the treaty between the two countries.
The agent of India, Water Resources Secretary to the government of India Dhruv Vijay Singh, stressed the crucial role of hydropower projects like KHEP in alleviating poverty and improving quality of life across India.
He emphasised that under the Indus Waters Treaty, both Pakistan and India had right to the use of all the rivers of the Indus system for certain purposes, even when a particular river was in principle allocated to the other state.
The parties' oral-arguments counsels delivered two rounds of oral arguments. Shamila Mahmood, Professor James Crawford, Professor Vaughan Lowe, and Samuel Wordsworth argued on behalf of Pakistan, while Neeru Chadha, Fali Nariman, Professor Stephen McCaffrey, RKP Shankardass, Rodman Bundy, and Professor Daniel Magraw argued on behalf of India.
Pakistan maintained that the planned diversion of the waters of the River Neelum by the KHEP was prohibited by the Indus Waters Treaty.
In Pakistan's view, the treaty does not allow India to permanently divert all the water of a tributary of the River Jhelum into another in order to create a potential for generation of hydroelectric power, that did not naturally arise from the flow of the river within its course.
Pakistan further argued that as a matter of fact, its agricultural and hydroelectric sectors would be adversely affected by the KHEP. Specifically, Pakistan argued that the KHEP, under its planned mode of operation, would divert the entirety of the waters of the River Neelum during the lean season.
This would result in a significant loss in power generation and revenue for the downstream Neelum-Jhelum Hydro-electricity Project (NJHEP) and any other hydropower projects Pakistan might choose to construct on the River Neelum in the future, the Pakistani side argued.
India maintained that it had a right to transfer water between the tributaries of the River Jhelum for the purpose of hydropower generation. Such a right was evident, India argued, given that prior to the treaty India was already contemplating the construction of a hydropower project at the current location of the KHEP that would include an inter-tributary transfer.
The Indian side also said that the NJHEP would not be adversely affected by the KHEP, emphasising that the KHEP would divert less than one percent of the total volume of waters of the Western Rivers.
Any adverse effect to hydropower generation of the NJHEP would be mitigated by the release of water during the lean season from the storage work which Pakistan intended to construct on the River Neelum at Dudhnial, between the KHEP and the NJHEP, the Indian side argued.