India-Pakistan Current Affairs - 2020

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Fact box: Kishenganga Project

Recently, India won the legal battle against Pakistan regarding construction of Kishenganga Hydro Electric Project in North Kashmir.

What is the issue?

Pakistan had pleaded before the Court of Arbitration at The Hague that India’s construction of Project over Kishenganga was a violation of Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) signed in 1960.

What is the Project?

India is constructing Rs. 3600 crore, 330 MW, run-of-the-river, hydro-electric project on Kishenganga River (known as Neelam in Pak) which is a tributary river to Jhelum. The power project is under construction by the National Hydro Power Corporation in Gurez valley near Bandipura in north Kashmir.

What is the opposition from Pakistan?

  • The project involves diverting waters from a dam site to Bonar Madmati Nallah, another tributary of Jhelum. Pakistan sees it a breach of India’s legal obligations owed to Pakistan under the IWT, as interpreted and applied in accordance with international law, including India’s obligations under Article III (2) (let flow all the waters of the Western rivers and not permit any interference with those waters) and Article IV (6) (maintenance of natural channels).
  •  Another objection is the use of modern drawdown flushing technique for the management of sedimentation on the dam. It requires waters to be brought below the Dead Storage Level.  Pakistan had objected to the drawdown flushing apprehending that it will affect flows at its downstream Neelam project.

 What was the award by the Court of Arbitration?

  • The Court of Arbitration has allowed India to go ahead with the construction of the project in rejecting Pakistan’s plea that this was a violation of the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty.
  • However, the court restrained India from adopting the draw down flushing technique for clearing sedimentation. India may have to adopt a different technique for flushing.

Is it for the first time Pakistan dragged India to international court on a river issue?

No. This was the second water dispute on which Pakistan dragged India to an international arena charging New Delhi with violation of the IWT. Earlier a neutral expert was appointed by the World Bank to adjudicate on the Baglihar dam built on Chenab River also located in Jammu and Kashmir.

What is Indus Waters Treaty?

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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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