Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Indian PM Set to Inaugurate Controversial Kishanganga Hydroelectric Project

Indian PM Narendra Modi is geared-up to inaugurate the 330-megawatt Kishanganga Hydroelectric Project on the Kishanganga River in Jammu and Kashmir’s Bandipora district on 19th May 2018. The Kishanganga Project is an $864 million dam which is part of a run-of-the-river hydroelectric project that is developed to redirect water from the Kishanganga River to a power plant in the Jhelum River basin. India and Pakistan have been in a war-of-words and even approached the Hague’s Court of Arbitration to resolve this dispute.

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Pakistan on Friday expressed “serious concerns” over the inauguration of controversial Kishanganga hydropower project by New Delhi and described it a “Violation of the Indus Waters Treaty”. As per the statement of Pakistan’s Foreign Office:

“Pakistan maintains that the inauguration of the Kishanganga project without solving the dispute is a clear violation of the Indus Waters Treaty.”

Despite numerous rounds of bilateral negotiations as well as interventions by the World Bank, Delhi proceeded with the construction of the Kishanganga project, clearly threatens the sanctity of the Treaty, said the Foreign Office of Pakistan. They reemphasized that as the custodian of the treaty, the World Bank must pursue the Indian government to address Islamabad’s concerns on the Kishanganga River Project.

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Pakistan argues that India completed the 330MW project during the period the World Bank “halted” the process for constitution of a Court of Arbitration (COA) as petitioned by Islamabad in 2016.

Kishanganga Project: You Must Know

Soon after the work on the $864-million project commenced in 2007, it was “paused” in 2011 as Islamabad appealed to the Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration, charging Delhi of violating the Indus Water Treaty via the Kishanganga project. Pakistan accused India of expanding the catchment of the Jhelum River which was depriving Pakistan of its water rights, as it was also building Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project on the same river. Kishanganga in Pakistan is called Neelum River.

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The Hague’s Court of Arbitration, which visited Kishanganga Project as well as the Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project in Pakistan, sustained India’s fundamental assertion that New Delhi has the right to redirect waters of western rivers in a non-consumptive fashion for optimal power production.

Despite permitting India to proceed with the construction of the dam, the Hague’s Court of Arbitration in its final verdict defined that a 9 cubic meter/second of the natural flow of water must be maintained in the Kishanganga River at all times to maintain the environment downstream as the river flows into Pakistan.

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