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Indus Water Treaty: India raised questions on World Bank starting two separate processes to resolve differences

New Delhi : India on Thursday questioned the World Bank’s decision to initiate two separate processes to appoint an arbitration court bench and a neutral expert to resolve the issue related to the Indus Waters Treaty. Foreign Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi told reporters, ‘I don’t think they (the World Bank) are in a position to interpret this treaty for us. This treaty is between two countries and our understanding of this treaty is that it has graded provisions. He said that India had sent a notice to Pakistan on January 25 to amend the Indus Waters Treaty of September 1960.

Bagchi explained that the purpose of giving notice for amendment to the treaty is to provide an opportunity to Pakistan to conduct intergovernmental negotiations within 90 days from the amendment. The notice was first sent to Pakistan for its stand on non-compliance with the dispute settlement mechanism associated with the implementation of the six-decade-old treaty.

“I am not yet aware of Pakistan’s stand,” the spokesperson said. I am not even aware of the response or comment of the World Bank. He said that the World Bank had recognized two different procedural problems in this matter five-six years ago and there has been no change in India’s stand in this matter.

India and Pakistan signed the treaty in 1960 after 9 years of negotiations. The World Bank was also among the signatories of this treaty. According to this treaty, except for some exceptions, India can use the water of the eastern rivers without restriction. It (India) was given the right to use the water of Ravi, Sutlej and Beas rivers for transportation, electricity and agriculture under the provisions related to India.

India’s notice to Pakistan is understood to have been sent in view of the neighboring country’s firm stand on resolving differences on issues related to the Kishanganga and Ratle hydroelectric projects. This notice has been sent under the provisions of Article 12(3) of the Indus Water Treaty.

In 2015, Pakistan requested the appointment of a neutral expert to investigate technical objections to the Indian Kishanganga and Ratle hydroelectric projects. In 2016, Pakistan unilaterally withdrew from this request and proposed to take these objections to the Court of Arbitration. India had made a separate request to send a neutral expert on the matter.

India believes that simultaneous initiation of two processes on the same question and the possibility of it leading to inconsistent or contradictory results would create an unprecedented and legally untenable situation that could jeopardize the Indus Waters Treaty.

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