Fact Box: Kishenganga Hydro-electric project (KHEP)

Court of Arbitration the Court permits India to go ahead with the construction of the Rs. 3600 crore KHEP

In a key decision, the Court of Arbitration the Court chaired by Stephen M. Schwebel, at the Hague has permitted India to go ahead with the construction of the Rs. 3600 crore Kishenganga Hydro-electric project (KHEP) in North Kashmir. The court eliminated Pakistan’s plea that this was a violation of the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty.

Thus, India can go ahead with the diversion of the waters of Kishanganga for hydro-electric power generation.

  • Kishanganga is a tributary of Jhelum.
  • Kishenganga is called ‘Neelam’ in Pakistan.
  • KHEP is a 330 MW run-of-the-river Kishenganga project.

Project is under construction by the NHPC (National Hydro Power Corporation) in Gurez valley near Bandipura in north Kashmir.

What was Pakistan’s contention?

Pakistan had contended that as per the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty, the following are impermissible:

  1. The KHEP’s planned diversion of the waters of the Neelum (or Kishenganga)
  2. The use of the drawdown flushing technique both at the KHEP and at other Indian hydroelectric projects that the Treaty regulates.

Pakistan had raised objections to the above holding that it will affect Pakistan’s water availability downstream and thus it sought setting up of a Court of Arbitration on May 17, 2010.

What was India’s contention?

  • India had asserted that both the design and planned mode of operation of the KHEP are in full conformity with the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960.

What is the verdict of the Court of Arbitration?

  • A Court of Arbitration was set up under the chairmanship Stephen M. Schwebel was set up on May 17, 2010 at The Hague.
  • The members of the Court of Arbitration visited India and Pakistan for site inspection in June, 2011.
  • The court eliminated Pakistan’s plea that this was a violation of the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty.
  • Thus, India can go ahead with the diversion of the waters of Kishanganga for hydro-electric power generation.
  • At the same time, the court has confined India from adopting the drawdown flushing technique for clearing sedimentation in the run-of-the river project.
  • Thus, now India will have to adopt a different flushing technique for clearing sedimentation in the run-of-the river project.
  • The Court had limited India from constructing any permanent works on or above Kishenganga at Gurez that may suppress the restoration of the full flow of the river.
  • The court has permitted India to construct a temporary by-pass tunnel for diversion of waters.

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