Pakistan team arrives for talks on power projects in Chenab basin

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NEW DELHI, September 22:  A Pakistani delegation arrived here on Saturday for the 109th meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission — the first for this year.

The four-day meeting at the level of the Indus Commissioners will discuss Pakistan’s objections to the construction of four hydrothermal projects in the Chenab basin in Jammu and Kashmir under the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960.

Three of the projects — Ratle (850 MW), lower Kalnai (48 MW) and Miyar Nallah (120 MW) — are run-of-the-river projects, while the 1000-MW Pakaldul project involves a “very insignificant pondage,” Water Ministry sources told The Hindu.

Islamabad has raised questions about the design for spillway, pondage and water intake. These issues were earlier discussed at the last meeting held in Lahore in March.

The Pakistan delegation, led by Mirza Asif Baig, arrived through the Wagah border. India’s Commissioner for Indus waters G. Aranganathan will lead the Indian delegation. On Sunday, Union Water Resources Secretary Alok Rawat will host a dinner to the Pakistan delegation.

The talks are being held under Article VIII (5) of the Treaty, which calls for at least one meeting annually in each country alternatively. Each side has to inform the other of any new project to be undertaken at least six months in advance. India has informed Pakistan of the four projects.

The talks will review the works done last year, as well as chalk out programmes of visits and tours.

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