Pakistan’s concerns over India’s hydropower projects remain

Observer Report

Islamabad

Pakistan’s objections over two controversial water storage and hydropower projects being built by India continued to exist after the first round of the two-day Pakistan-India Permanent Indus Commission talks between the two neighbours in Lahore on Wednesday.
Islamabad has its concerns over the construction of 1000MW Pakal Dul and 48MW Lower Kalnai hydroelectric projects on Chenab River — to address which, a nine-member New Delhi delegation, led by Indian Water Commissioner P K Saxena, had arrived in Lahore via Wagah border Tuesday. The Pakistani authorities raised their objections over the designs of the two projects and “demanded a reduction of five metres in the height of the Pakal Dul project”.
They also urged the Indian representatives to “clarify the filling up and vacating pattern of the lake for Pakal Dul hydroelectric power plant”. The meeting was the seventh of its kind on the twin hydroelectric projects since 2013. The second round of the talks will take place today.
Both projects — Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai — are on two different tributaries of Chenab river. India had promised in March last year to modify the designs of the two projects and address Pakistan’s concerns but in vain.
Instead, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of 1000MW Pakal Dul project in May this year to kickstart the project, without addressing Islamabad’s reservations.
According to Indian media reports, the project’s completion is targeted within 66 months with a commitment to provide 12 per cent free of cost electricity to India-held Jammu and Kashmir.

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