India-Pakistan to hold talks on water storage, hydro projects this week

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Pakistan will reiterate its serious objections over two water storage and hydropower projects being built by India during a meet with New Delhi this week in Lahore.

A government official told Dawn news on Sunday that Indian Water Commissioner P K Saxena, along with a delegation, was expected to reach Lahore on Tuesday to begin the discussions with his Pakistani counterpart Syed Mehr Ali Shah from Wednesday.

The official said Pakistan would raise its concerns over the 1000MW Pakal Dul and 48MW Lower Kalnai hydroelectric projects on two different tributaries of River Chenab despite Islamabad's serious objections over their designs.

Pakistan has been raising reservations over the designs of the two projects and would like India to either modify it to make them compliant to 1960 Indus Waters Treaty or put the projects on hold until an understanding is reached between the two sides.

The official said Islamabad and New Delhi would also finalise the schedule of future meetings of the Permanent Indus Commission and visits of the teams of the Indus commissioners.

He said that the water commissioners of Pakistan and India were required to meet twice a year and arrange technical visits to projects' sites and critical river head works, but Pakistan had been facing a lot of problems in timely meetings and visits.

The two-day session is also expected to discuss ways and means for timely and smooth sharing of hydrological data on shared rivers.

Pakal Dul is a storage-cum-power project and can have gross storage of about 108,000-acre-feet of water. The project design envisages its filling every monsoon season between mid-June and end-August.

Pakistan believes that 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, reports Dawn news.

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.

Under the provisions of the Indus Water Treaty 1960, waters of the eastern rivers - Sutlej, Beas and Ravi - had been allocated to India and the western rivers - the Indus, Jhelum and Chenab - to Pakistan, except for certain non-consumptive uses for India.

 


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