Indo-Pak to visit Kishanganga site

Indo-Pak to visit Kishanganga site

ISLAMABAD (Agencies): A Joint Inspection Commission (JIC) of Indian and Pakistani officials is scheduled to inspect the site of the controversial Kishanganga hydro-electricity project on Saturday (today) to confirm that a stay order granted by the International Court of Arbitration (ICA) is not being violated.

The disputed power project is being built on the Neelum River at Gurez in Kashmir.

In September 2011, the ICA had stopped India from any permanent work on the project in response to Pakistan’s appeal for “interim measures” against the dam which may cause diversion of the river’s flow. The ICA is expected to announce its verdict in February 2013.

Pakistani officials believe the construction of Kishanganga dam on the Neelum-Jhelum River would deprive Pakistan of 13% of the river’s water, which may deal a big blow to the country’s agriculture sector.

“Pakistan is already facing a water shortage and a further cut in water due to the construction of Kishanganga dam may lead the country into a drought-like situation and cause a serious food security threat,” an official told The Express Tribune, requesting anonymity.

“When the stay order was granted to Pakistan against permanent work on the Kishangaga dam, the ICA had also bound India to arrange a visit of Pakistani officials to the dam site to ensure no compliance of the stay order,” a senior government official said, adding that Pakistani officials along with Indian authorities under the Joint Inspection Commission had visited the site in May, this year.

“We had noted during last visit that no violation of the stay order was made by India as permanent work on the dam was not in progress,” the official said, adding that this would be the second visit by the Joint Inspection Commission.

During a hearing in August 2012, in the international court at The Hague, Pakistan placed the matter for determination by the Court of Arbitration. The question was whether India’s proposed diversion of the Neelum-Jhelum River into another tributary, the Bonar Madmati Nallah, being one central element of the Kishanganga project, breaches India’s legal obligations owed to Pakistan under the treaty.

Another dispute raised by Pakistan was whether India may deplete or bring the reservoir level of a run-of-river plant below Dead Storage Level (DSL) in any circumstances except in the case of an unforeseen emergency.

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