Islamabad asks New Delhi to stop ‘ongoing construction’

‘It Is Gross Violation Of Understanding Reached Between Two Countries’

Wullar Barrage Row

MUDDASIR ALI

Srinagar, Dec 21: Pakistan has taken a serious note of the ‘ongoing construction’ on the Wullar barrage in north Kashmir’s Bandipora district and has asked New Delhi to “stop it immediately.”
It has claimed that the work was a “gross violation” of the understanding reached between the two countries on the project and could impact the resumed dialogue process between the two countries.
The Pakistan’s Commissioner for Indus Water Treaty, Ministry of Water and Power, Mirza Asif Baig has written to his Indian counterpart G Aranganathan that it has been “reliably learnt” that the construction of the Wullar barrage/Tulbul Navigation project has resumed.
The “disputed” project has been under discussion between the two governments and is also the component of the resumed dialogue process between them, Baig has said in the letter.
It mentions that in the last round of talks held at New Delhi on March 27/28 (2012) the secretaries of the respective ministers from India and Pakistan had agreed that New Delhi would provide “additional technical data” to Islamabad which would be examined by it before furnishing its views ahead of next round of talks. “The technical data is still awaiting,” Baig has expressed.
New Delhi has now sought state government’s view point on the matter before responding to Pakistan.
The Public Health Engineering (PHE) and Irrigation Minister Taj Mohi-ud-Din confirmed the same.
Wullar barrage or Tulbul Navigation is an unresolved issue between New Delhi and Islamabad. The construction of 439-feet long and 40-feet wide barrage with a navigation lock at Wullar Lake near village Ningli in Sopore has been strongly opposed by Islamabad. Work was started on this project in 1984 and was aimed to increase the water level in the barrage. However it was stopped in 1987 following Pakistan's objections that it violates the water sharing treaty reached by the countries in 1960.
India says the barrage was not in violation of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) and will be used only for transportation purposes.
However, Pakistan has been arguing it has potential to disrupt the triple canal project of Pakistan-Upper Jhelum Canal, Upper Chenab Canal and the Lower Bari Doab Canal.
Experts here say the water storage in the Wullar barrage would significantly help the two downstream power projects Uri-I and Uri-II and region's Lower Jhelum power project in the lean season and thereby maintain the power generation from the projects in winters as well.
So far, the two countries have held more than a dozen secretary-level talks to resolve the issue but are yet to reach any consensus.
The talks (on the project), the letter reads, between the two governments had begun on the conditions that the work on the site would remain suspended until amicable solution of the dispute was reached at.
“Resumption of the work is gross violation of the understanding reached between the governments. The construction of the barrage would involve storage in the Jhelum Main (Wullar Lake). The provisions of annexure E to the treaty expressly prohibit India from creating storage on the Jhelum main and thus the reported development is of serious concern to the Pakistan,” the letter reads.
Islamabad has now asked New Delhi to “immediately” arrange for their already agreed tour of inspection of Wullar barrage/Tulbul Navigation project for ascertaining the facts.
In August this year, suspected militants blasted a hut belonging to Irrigation and Flood Control Department on Wullar lake and threatened the engineers and workers there to stop work on the ongoing project.
Later Taj Mohiuddin informed the Assembly here that the attack was carried out by militants.
Taj told Greater Kashmir that the barrage was being constructed under provisions of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) which says that India can store water in lakes and other water bodies.
“There is absolutely no violation of the Treaty,” Taj said.
He said the construction was being carried to save people from flood and ensure conservation of lakes and wetlands. The minister said the area of lake would increase from present 18 sq kms to more than 100 sq kms and it would act as absorption basin for floods.
Post-partition of the subcontinent, water sharing was a major problem between India and Pakistan. The issue was resolved with the arbitration of World Bank, then the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and a settlement in the name of IWT was reached on Sept. 19, 1960.
The agreement puts riders on how the two countries use and share the water resources.
Out of the six rivers in what is called the Indus basin, India has exclusive rights over the waters of the three major Eastern rivers - Ravi, Beas and Sutlej before they enter Pakistan, while as Pakistan has rights to three large Western rivers that first flow through Kashmir - Indus, Jhelum and Chenab.
The treaty has withstood two wars and numerous other conflicts and is regarded as one of the few such international agreements on the sharing of river waters that has been a success, despite the ongoing rivalry between two nuclear neighbors- India and Pakistan.

Lastupdate on : Fri, 21 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 21 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 22 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST




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