Besides, India is also cold-shouldering Pakistan’s demand of sharing the engineering design of the 540MW Kwar hydroelectric project being built on the Chenab River in Illegally Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir (IIOJ&K). According to the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty, India is bound to share the design of any planned water infrastructure on western rivers six months before initiating construction. An official said the lukewarm response of India to water talks had left Pakistan clueless about under-construction dams on western rivers. As per the Treaty provisions, Pakistan enjoys exclusive rights over water resources of rivers, including the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab, except limited diversion for domestic and irrigation use in IIOJ&K. On April 25, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed displeasure over water sector projects being built by India on western rivers. He noted that the Indian PM’s staged visit to IIOJ&K and laying foundation stones of hydroelectric projects, in contravention of the Indus Waters Treaty, was another desperate attempt to project false “normalcy” in occupied territory.
India, in the last bilateral meeting in March, had agreed to hold further discussion on water issues in May. However, there is no agreement yet over dates and the agenda of the proposed meeting. On the other hand, Pakistan takes it as a violation of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) by launching the construction of the 540 MW Kwar hydro-electric project on the Chenab River, said an official. The authorities have expressed reservations over the Indian decision of granting approval and sanctioning funds for the hydro-electric project on the Chenab, terming it a unilateral move.
According to reports, India’s federal cabinet approved Rs4,526.12 crore for the 540MW project being built in Kishtwar district of IIOJ&K. The decision was taken at a meeting of the Union Cabinet chaired by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 27, 2022.
The project will generate 1,975.54 million units of electricity with 90 per cent dependability in a year. It will be jointly commissioned by the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) and IIOJ&K State Power Development Corporation in 54 months.
The project would be implemented by Chenab Valley Power Projects Private Limited (CVPPPL), a joint venture between Indian and Jammu & Kashmir Power Departments. It has been learnt that Pakistan would formally protest against India over the worrying development.
The Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Water would write a letter to his counterpart over the illegal construction of the water project. It may be noted that under the Indus Waters Treaty, the two countries share the waters of six rivers in the Indus Basin. Pakistan has extensive rights over the western rivers including Chenab, Jhelum, and Indus while India has rights over three eastern rivers including Sutlej, Beas and Ravi.