The second round of discussions between India and Pakistan on Ratle and Kishanganga hydroelectric projects, over which Islamabad has raised objections, will take place in Washington on September 14 and 15 under the aegis of the World Bank. Union Water Resources Secretary Amarjit Singh will lead the Indian delegation comprising representatives from the Ministry of External Affairs, Power, India’s Indus Water Commissioner and Central Water Commission. “A multi-disciplinary (Indian) delegation led by our secretary (Singh) will hold second round of technical discussions on Ratle and Kishenganga hydroelectric projects with Pakistan and the World Bank on September 14 and 15,” a senior official said today. The first round of discussion had taken place in Washington on July 31 and August 1 this year, the official said. Following the first round, the global lender had also issued a factsheet giving its stated position on the IWT under which India is allowed to construct hydroelectric facilities on the shared Indo-Pak rivers. As per the IWT provisions, India does not require any approval or clearance from third party for constructing projects such as Kishenganga on the Western Rivers. The World Bank had also maintained that the first round discussions were held in a spirit of “goodwill and cooperation”.
Pakistan had approached the World Bank last year, raising concerns over the designs of Ratle (850 MW) and Kishenganga (330 MW) hydroelectricity projects located in Jammu and Kashmir. It demanded that the World Bank, which is the mediator between the two countries under the 57-year-old water sharing pact, set up a court of arbitration to look into its concerns. On the other hand, India asked for appointment of a neutral expert to look at the issues, contending the concerns Pakistan raised were “technical” ones.
Following this, the international lender had in November 2016 initiated two simultaneous processes–for appointing neutral expert and establishment of court of arbitration–to look at technical differences between the two countries in connection with the project. The simultaneous processes, however, were halted after India objected to it. After that, representatives of the World Bank held talks with India and Pakistan separately to find a way out. The first and the upcoming second round are being considered as part of the same effort by the World Bank.