Pakistan withdraws objections to two IHK power projects


* Pakistan’s water commissioner says India has agreed to adjust designs of both the projects to Pakistan’s satisfaction

By Iftikhar Gilani

NEW DELHI: Pakistan has no objections on the 250 megawatts Uri-II and 44MW Chutak hydroelectric plants, Pakistan’s Indus Commissioner Jamaat Ali Shah said on Wednesday.

“They agreed to give an opening in the parapet wall. Our concern was that water levels or storage could increase if parapet walls remained solid. This concern has been addressed. We now have no objections on the 250 megawatts Uri-II and 44MW Chutak hydroelectric plants. India can go ahead with their construction,” he said.

He denied media reports that Pakistan had withdrawn its objections on the two hydroelectric projects for the sake of building a positive political climate.

After India presented additional details and technical information on the design of the Uri-II and Chutak projects at the recent meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission that concluded on Wednesday, Pakistan gave consent to their construction in the “spirit of cooperation and goodwill”. Talking to Daily Times at the end of the four-day meeting, Shah said the two sides also finalised a schedule and chalked out details of inspection visits during the year.

He said a mechanism to receive advance information on floods during monsoon beginning July 1 was also established. Shah said both projects approved on Wednesday had been pending just for lack of information.

During the meeting, India did come to the conclusion that a resolution of issues was not possible without providing adequate information, Shah added.

He said that India agreed to adjust the designs of both the projects to Pakistan’s satisfaction.

However, Shah said differences on 45MW Nimoo Bazgo project on Indus River in Ladakh region of IHK remained pending for want of further information, adding that India had agreed to provide requisite information within a week.

“On the project as well, we dropped our objections on the parapet wall and free board, as they were almost copies of Uri-II and Chutak projects. But our objections on gate structures and power intake were not addressed fully,” he added.

“They have now assured to provide this data in a week, after consultations at higher levels,” he said.

Shah said the free flow of information and transparency was necessary to maintain the tempo of cooperation.

He said most things got pended at the commission-level just for want of proper information, denying Pakistan was an impediment in the way of developing projects in IHK and elsewhere in India.

“India has rights as well as obligations and we try to draw attention to it,” he said.

Shah denied that Pakistan had charged India of stealing water, but said New Delhi’s record in abiding by the provisions of the Indus Water Treaty had never remained straight.

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