New Delhi, Apr 17: India on Monday discussed ongoing Neutral Expert proceedings pertaining to the Kishenganga and Ratle Hydroelectric Projects during the sixth meeting of the Steering Committee on matters related to the Indus Waters Treaty.
The sixth meeting of the Steering Committee on matters related to the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960 took place on 17 April 2023, read the Ministry of External Affairs press release. The Committee was chaired by Secretary, Department of Water Resources, Ministry of Jal Shakti, Government of India. The Foreign Secretary of India also attended the meeting.
The meeting took stock of the ongoing modification process of the Indus Waters Treaty. Matters related to the ongoing Neutral Expert proceedings pertaining to the Kishenganga and Ratle Hydroelectric Projects were also discussed, added the release.
The World Bank has appointed a "neutral expert" and a chairman of the Court of Arbitration (CoA) regarding the Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric power plants.
Michel Lino was appointed as the Neutral Expert and Sean Murphy was appointed as Chairman of the Court of Arbitration. They will carry out their duties in their individual capacity as subject matter experts and independently of any other appointments they may currently hold.
In 2015, Pakistan requested the appointment of a Neutral Expert to examine its technical objections to India's Kishenganga and Ratle Hydro Electric Projects (HEPs). In 2016, Pakistan unilaterally retracted this request and proposed that a Court of Arbitration adjudicate its objections.
Pakistan, despite repeated efforts by India to find a mutually agreeable way forward, has refused to discuss the issue during the five meetings of the Permanent Indus Commission from 2017 to 2022.
The World Bank at Pakistan's continued insistence initiated actions on both the Neutral Expert and Court of Arbitration processes. Such parallel consideration of the same issues is not covered under any provision of IWT.
The development came in view of disagreements and differences between India and Pakistan over the 1960 Indus Water Treaty.
The World Bank-backed Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan sets a mechanism for cooperation and information exchange between the two countries regarding their use of the rivers. However, India and Pakistan disagree over whether the technical design features of the Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric power plants contravene the Treaty.
Pakistan asked the World Bank to facilitate the establishment of a Court of Arbitration to consider its concerns about the designs of the two hydroelectric power projects. India has asked for the appointment of a Neutral Expert to consider similar concerns over the two projects.
The treaty prescribed how water from the six rivers of the Indus River System would be shared between India and Pakistan.