Kishanganga Conflict By: Mohammad Arifeen - Articles Detail
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Kishanganga Conflict  Back
By: Mohammad Arifeen

Mohammad Arifeen

India started building Kishanganga powerhouse in Bandipur area of held Kashmir in 1994 on the River Ganga-Kishan which is tributary to River Jhelum of Pakistan. In 2006 India, in disregard to the treaty, the original design of the powerhouse diverting the river water into underground channels.
The River Kishanganga water is to be diverted through a 24-kilometre tunnel for power production. The remaining water flow would join the Wullar Lake and ultimately run through Jhelum to Muzaffarabad.
The Indian power project will cause a shortfall of about 21 percent of River Neelum's inflow. The catchment area at Kishanganga dam site is roughly 1,820 square kilometres, and annual average flow is 115,900 cusecs
In 2010 Pakistan protested to the altered design and took up the issue with the World Bank. A seven-member team, appointed by UN Secretary General, after surveying the site and listening to the arguments of both Pakistan and India finally decided settle the dispute.
The first hearing was held at The Hague on January 14, 2011 when it was decided that Pakistan would submit its case to the ICA in May,2011. In September last year, the ICA in its interim decision had restricted India from any permanent work on the Kishanganga project.
Pakistan has been objecting to the construction of the hydroelectric project on the Kishanganga river in Kashmir, which is called Neelum upon entering Pakistan.
Construction of the Kishanganga project started in 2007 and is expected to complete by 2016. Almost a year later, Pakistan started constructing the Neelum Jhelum project on the Neelum River, located in Pakistan Occupied Kashmir, with a capacity of 969 MW and presumed annual benefits of Rs 45 billion.
Pakistan fears that the Kishanganga Project will divert a portion of the Kishanganga (Neelum River in Pakistan) which will reduce power generation at the Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Plant.
On 1st September 2012, the International Court of Arbitration (ICA) constituted in the matter of the Indus Waters Kishanganga Arbitration (Pakistan v. India) has concluded a two-week hearing on the merits at the Peace Palace in the Hague. Earlier, in the case of Baglihar Hdro Project, the court has asked India to redesign and carry out necessary amendments for removing three out of four technical objections raised by Pakistan.
The verdict was somewhat tilted in favor for India and it welcomed by the Indian government with full joy. External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid hailed the verdict of an International Court of Arbitration at the Hague on the Kishanganga hydroelectric project.
 According to him the court has maintained India position that it has not violated anything and has a right to construct a certain structure there and to divert the water to another tributary. India had claimed the Indus Waters Treaty gave it the right to transfer waters between the Jhelum's tributaries to generate hydropower.
The Hindu influential paper of India said in its report that the court chaired by Stephen M. Schwebel, has said "India can go ahead with the diversion of the waters of Kishanganga, a tributary of Jhelum, for hydro-electric power generation."
Playing down the latest verdict by International Court of Arbitration upholding India's right to divert water from the Kishanganga hydro project, Pakistan said it was not a legal defeat for the country.
 Pakistan had put two questions of legal nature before the Court of Arbitration which was within its jurisdiction for determination. The Court has given its conclusive determination on one question while on the second the final award will be given later in December
The first was whether India's proposed diversion of the river Kishanganga (Neelum) water into another tributary, i.e., the Bonar Madmati Nallah - being one fundamental element of the Kishanganga project - breaches India's legal obligations owed to Pakistan under the IWT, as interpreted and applied in accordance with international law.
This includes India's obligations under Article III (2) (let flow all the waters of the western rivers and not permit any interference with those waters) and Article IV (6) (maintenance of natural channels).
Pakistan argued that the KHEP's planned diversion of waters of the Kishenganga/Neelum, as well as the use of the drawdown flushing technique, both at the KHEP or at other Indian hydroelectric projects that the IWT regulates, are impermissible under the Indus Waters Treaty.
 India has planned 150 run-of-river power plants on the western rivers of which 47 are above 50 MW's which made this particular decision very significant for Pakistan.
Without the clear direction by the Court, the construction of these storage-oriented power plants by India, in the manner it has been seeking to build in the past, could have seriously undermined Pakistan's right of uninterrupted water flows from the western rivers.
For determining of minimum flow regime the Court has asked both India and Pakistan to provide flow data and other details. A final award will be given later in December and in this context according to Pakistan decision is not yet decisive.
 Pakistan feels a little bit  outwardly satisfied with the fact that the court has allowed India to divert only a minimum flow of water from Kishanganga River for power generation although the Indian government had sought full diversion of the river water which Islamabad considers a violation of the Indus Water Treaty of 1960.
The court ruled that India is under an obligation to construct and operate the Kishanganga Hydroelectric Plant (KHEP) in such a way as to maintain a minimum flow of water in the river.