With the water talks between India and Pakistan set to resume in Lahore, Pakistan has said it will reiterate its objections over two water storage and hydropower projects being built by India. The Pakistan-India Permanent Indus Commission talks are scheduled to be held on August 29-30 in Lahore.
Quoting a government official, Pakistan newspaper Dawn reported that Indian Water Commissioner PK Saxena, along with a delegation, was likely to reach Lahore on Tuesday to begin the two-day discussions with his Pakistani counterpart Syed Mehr Ali Shah the next day.
According to the official, Pakistan would raise its concerns over 1000MW Pakal Dul and 48MW Lower Kalnai hydroelectric projects on Chenab river. Islamabad had earlier raised serious objections over the designs of the two projects, asking India to either modify them to make them compliant to 1960 Indus Waters Treaty or put the projects on hold until an agreement was reached between Delhi and Islamabad.
The official told Dawn the two sides would also finalise the schedule of future meetings of the Permanent Indus Commission and visits of the Indus commissioners’ teams. He said the water commissioners were required to meet twice a year and arrange technical visits to the project sites and critical river head works.
The projects — Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai — are on two different tributaries of Chenab river.
During the two-day session, the water commissioners are also expected to discuss ways and means for timely and smooth sharing of hydrological data on the shared rivers.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of 1000mw Pakal Dul project in May this year to kickstart the project. The project likely to be completed within 66 months.
Pakal Dul, a storage-cum-power project, can store about 108,000 acre feet of water. According to its design, the dam will fill every monsoon between mid-June and end of August.
Pakistan believes the tunnel spillway of Pakal Dul should be raised closer to the dead storage level because its placement 40 metres below the dead storage level could allow drawdown flushing not permitted to India under the 1960 water treaty, according to the Dawn report.
On the 48MW Lower Kalnai project, Pakistan has raised objections to its freeboard, pondage and intake and is of the view that the depth of bridge girder and provision of freeboard should be close to one metre and considers two-metre freeboard as “excessive”.
The Lower Kalnai project is on a left bank tributary of Chenab and can have gross storage of about 1,508 acre feet of water.
As per the Indus Water Treaty 1960, waters of Sutlej, Beas and Ravi (the eastern rivers) had been allocated to India and that of the western rivers — Indus, Jhelum and Chenab — were to go to Pakistan, except for certain non-consumptive uses for India.