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Baglihar dam issue: World Bank's expert to hold meet in Paris on June 9 and 10

Gargi Parsai

Kishanganga power project talks called off abruptly; Pakistan delegation leaves


  • Fali Nariman to present India's case
  • Water Resources Secretary to lead delegation on Baglihar
  • Need to protect existing agriculture

    NEW DELHI: World Bank's neutral water expert, Raymond Lafitte, will hold his first meeting with India and Pakistan in Paris on June 9 and 10 to address the issues between the two nations on the 450 MW Baglihar dam under construction on the Chenab river in Jammu and Kashmir.

    The expert will set out the procedure of the proceedings in consultation with the two sides and in consonance with the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960.

    India's Water Resources Secretary J. Hari Narayan will lead a five-member delegation of experts and lawyers to Paris.

    Eminent lawyer Fali S. Nariman will present India's case, along with Shankar Das, a specialist on international law.

    As a consequence of this development, the ongoing Permanent Indus Commissioner-level talks here between India and Pakistan on the 330MW Kishanganga project in Baramulla district of Jammu and Kashmir were abruptly called off.

    The talks, which were scheduled till June 4, were abandoned mid-way as Pakistan Commissioner Jamait Ali Shah was suddenly recalled to Islamabad. India was led by Commissioner D.K. Mehta at these discussions.

    Informed sources said that during the two-day meeting, both sides had discussed six issues on the Kishanganga dam which was an inter-tributary transfer project on the river Jhelum. While both the sides were reaching an understanding on four issues, the two most contentious issues of inter-tributary transfer and protection of existing agriculture and hydroelectric uses could not be taken up as the Pakistan side cut short the meeting.

    Before leaving, Mr. Shah told UNI that India was acting "tough" and nothing had moved forward.

    Four issues

    According to the Indian side, the four issues on which there was "convergence'' concerned the flood value in the design of the dam, the location of sedimentation sluices, the water intake level and the release of water downstream, the sources said. Both sides agreed to meet again before July 15.

    Equal hearing

    On Baglihar, sources said that the neutral expert, a professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, would set out the procedure subject to the conditions under the treaty. These were: both the sides would be given equal hearing; he would conform to the provisions of the treaty and there would be no financial determination.

    India was well into preparing its strategy.

    Eminent legal experts, water specialists and engineers were recently involved in an "intense interaction'' on the positions of India and Pakistan on Baglihar.

    The Prime Minister's Office is fully involved in the preparations.

    The World Bank appointed the expert recently after Pakistan unilaterally approached it for resolution of its "differences'' with India on the design of the Baglihar dam in Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir.

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