ISLAMABAD - The international court of arbitration constituted by the United Nations will take up Pakistan’s case seeking stay against India’s construction of the Kishanganga hydroelectric project on the Jhelum River in violation of the Indus Water Treaty of 1960, on August 25th.
An official source said that the hearing on the Pakistan’s case for stay against the construction on the project in Indian occupied Kashmir would be held between, August 25th to 27th. The Pakistani delegation, led by the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Water and Agriculture Kamal Majeed Ullah will depart for Hague on August 24. In May 2010, Pakistan had instituted arbitral proceedings against India under Article IX and Annexure G of the Indus Water Treaty, an international agreement signed by India and Pakistan in 1960 that allocates the use of the Indus river system between the two countries. Pakistan and India disagree on the application of the provisions of the Treaty regarding the Kishanganga hydroelectric project.
Pakistan had approached the international court against the Indian move to construct 330MW Kishanganga hydroelectric project by diverting the Neelum River, which, it said, was in violation of the Indus treaty. Pakistan’s argument is that the project would result in decrease in water for irrigation purposes in the country as well as reduce the generation capacity of hydropower projects down stream.
The seven-member Court of Arbitration is chaired by Judge Stephen M. Schwebel of United States. The Court of Arbitration visited the Neelum-Jhelum and Kishanganga hydroelectric projects and surrounding areas in June this year. In addition to the expert briefings and features observed during the site visit, the court will consider the written and oral pleadings that have been and will be submitted by Pakistan and India.
The Court will then issue its verdict. It needs to be understood that the Indus system of rivers comprises of three eastern rivers namely Sutlej, Beas and Ravi along with three western rivers, the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab. It was decided that with minor exceptions, India had exclusive rights to the use of water from all Eastern Rivers and tributaries before they enter Pakistan. Likewise Pakistan had exclusive rights to the use of western rivers according to the Indus Water Treaty.
According to a report titled, ‘Avoiding Water Wars in South and Central Asia,’ by Senator John Kerry, India is currently in the process of building 33 projects in the Indian occupied Kashmir that could potentially aid India to manipulate water supply of Pakistan especially during the growing season, which could put Pakistan’s agriculture in serious jeopardy. It is pertinent to mention that the Indus Water Treaty specifically bars India from interfering “with the water of the eastern rivers except for domestic use and non-consumptive use, limited agriculture use and limited utilization for generation of hydro-electric power.”
It is believed that if the Kishanganga hydropower project is completed, Pakistan will suffer a 27 per cent water deficit. This will severely affect the flow of water during the sowing season and will have a negative impact on the economy.