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Indus Water Treaty: 40-member delegation visits Ratle hydroelectric project in Kishtwar

First visit by Pakistani delegates to J&K in over five-years
11:17 PM Jun 24, 2024 IST | GK Web Desk
indus water treaty  40 member delegation visits ratle hydroelectric project in kishtwar
Cavalcade of delegation members. Photo: (Screengrab from a video)

Srinagar, Jun 24: The Indus Water Treaty (IWT) cat is out of the bag again as a 40-member delegation comprising Pakistanis, Indians and members of International community today visited the different units of 850-mega watt Ratle hydroelectric power project in J&K's Kishtwar district on Monday.


This is a first visit to J&K by Pakistani delegates in over five-years and as India's most trusted high-lift helicopter, Boeing CH 47 Chinook hovered over the skies of J&K's Kishtwar, it became the major attraction of people living in the town while it landed near Chowgan ground in the district.


The delegation, including from India and Pakistan, comprises of members from World Bank too.


During their four-day visit to Jammu and Kashmir, the delegation will visit dams being built in the region by India, against which Pakistan had sought the intervention of the International Community, raising objections over the construction of Ratle and Kisheganga projects.


The delegation after landing, amid high security were driven straight  to Ratle hydroelectric power project site situated on the banks of river Chenab at Drabshala on Batote-Kishtwar national highway in Kishtwar district.


Talks were held in a confidential atmosphere, reported news agency KNO.


“After reaching the project site, the delegation visited the offices where they went through the papers related to the construction of the project and got a briefing from the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) officers,” a source in the Ratle project said.


The delegation will be staying in Kishtwar for a few days and is also expected to visit the 1000-megawatt Pakal Dool hydroelectric project being built on Marusudar River coming from Marwah, a tributary of river Chenab.

The 850-megawatt Ratle power project is a run of the river project which was started 11 years ago when on June 25, 2013 the then Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh had laid the foundation stone from Chowgan ground at Kishtwar. The project was delayed after some internal issues and also when the construction GVK Reddy group had ended the agreement with the government.

Pakistani government in the year 2016 had written to World Bank and had raised objection over the design features of two projects including Ratle and Kishenganga project and had sought settlement through neutral experts. Later on Pakistan had withdrawn the request and had sought adjudication through the Court of arbitration, to which India objected and sought settlement through neutral experts.

The negotiations failed as neither of the parties backtracked, which forced the World Bank to appoint a neutral expert and the chair of the Court of Arbitration in October 2022 and issued notices for the modification of the treaty. India had warned that nothing like such parallel consideration is covered under the IWT.

In July 2023, the Court of Arbitration ruled that it was “competent to consider and determine the disputes set forth by Pakistan’s request for arbitration.” After filing its first Memorial, Pakistan presented its documents supporting its legal case and the Court held its first visit to the Neelum-Jhelum Hydro-Electric Plant in Pakistan-Occupied Kashmir which was aimed getting familiarize with the general aspects of the design and operation of run-of-river hydro-electric plants along the Indus system of rivers.

India refused to take part in the Court of arbitration and submitted its Memorial to the Neutral Experts and in September last year Pakistan joined the second meeting of the parties held by Neutral Experts in Vienna.