Dialogue on the Indus Waters Treaty between India and Pakistan will resume with two-day talks in Lahore on March 20 and 21, BBC Urdu reported on Thursday.
The water commissioner-level meeting between the two countries every year is mandatory under the 57-year old agreement. However, India suspended the meeting for an indefinite period after the Uri attack in September last year.
The staff at the office of the Indian Indus Water Commissioner P K Saxena confirmed the latter was preparing for the talks.
“You should talk to secretary water and power Amarjeet Singh to get the official version on the issue,” a staffer said. Singh, however, was unavailable for comment.
Pakistan’s Indus Water Commissioner Asif Baig Mirza also confirmed the forthcoming talks.
A meeting chaired by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year had decided to suspend the talks. He also issued a statement, saying “water and blood could not flow at the same time”. India also threatened to dismiss the Treaty.
India is constructing 300MW Kishan Ganga project on Neelum River and another 850MW Rutley Hydropower Project on Chenab River. Pakistan has raised objections to both the projects, and contacted the World Bank for mediation; however the WB insisted for bilateral dialogue. The deadline given to India and Pakistan to solve the issue expired in January.
Meanwhile, quoting Reuters, the BBC said India has expedited the work on six hydro-power projects in held-Kashmir, which will cost over $15 billion.
An official of the Indian power ministry Pardap Kumar Pujari said the projects were not not meant for producing electricity but defence and border management as well.
According to Baig, he will seek the project details form his Indian counterpart in the forthcoming talks, and will comment after that.
Meanwhile, Reuters quoted Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria as saying that “it seems India has realised the importance of the Indus Waters Treaty and, therefore, has agreed to for dialogue.”
The Foreign Affairs Committee of the US Senate had warned in its 2011 report that through these projects, India wanted to control the flow of water to Pakistan. The projects, report added, will allow India to stock water by controlling its flow to Pakistan, and thus damage its agricultural produce.
Translated from Urdu by Arshad Shaheen