New Delhi (NVI): After a long gap of two-and-a-half years, the Indus Commissioners of India and Pakistan will be meeting in New Delhi on March 23-24, as both the countries witness signs of thaw after recent decision to uphold border ceasefire.
Normally, the meeting is supposed to take place annually but is taking place after a gap due to Covid-19 pandemic. Last meeting was held in Lahore in August 2018.
During the meeting, the Pakistani delegation is expected to raise concerns over design of Indian hydropower projects on the Chenab River.
Interestingly, this will also be the first meeting between the Indus Water Commissioners of the two countries after the abolition of Article 370 that gave special status to the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. Notably, the Article was abrogated in August 2019 and the state of J&K was bifurcated into two Union Territories of Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh.
As part of its initiatives to accelerate growth in both the UTs, the Indian government has cleared several hydroprojects in Ladakh since then. A few of them are Nimu Chilling (24 MW), Kargil Hunderman (25 MW) and Durbuk Shyok (19 MW).
The annual meeting was cancelled for the first time since the signing of the Indus Water Treaty in March 2020, in view of the Covid-19 pandemic. The meeting was scheduled to take place in the National Capital only.
PK Saxena, India’s Indus Commissioner will represent India along with his advisors from the Central Water Commission, Central Electricity Authority and National Hydroelectric Power Corporation. The Pakistani side will be led by Syed Muhammad Meher Ali Shah, Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters and his eight advisors.
The Indus Water Treaty was signed between India and Pakistan in 1960, under which all the waters of the eastern rivers – the Sutlej, Beas, and Ravi – amounting to around 33 million acre-feet annually is allocated for India for unrestricted use.
Pakistan has been allowed unrestricted use of waters of western rivers – Indus, Jhelum, and Chenab – amounting to around 135 million acre-feet annually.