Neutral expert says construction can
Pakistan's request to stop work on the Baglihar dam on river Chenab in Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) has been turned down by Raymond Lafitte, the neutral expert appointed by the World Bank (WB). WB had recently chosen Lafitte, a professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Lausanne, Switzerland, to mediate in the dispute between India and Pakistan (see Down To Earth, 'Bilateral loss', June 15, 2005). Lafitte and the delegations of the two countries met for the first time in Paris on June 9-10, 2005. As expected, Pakistan demanded that the work on the project be suspended till the neutral expert came to a conclusion on the technical aspects of the dam. But Lafitte said doing so would be too expensive for India if the verdict goes in its favour.
Meanwhile, putting aside Pakistan's objections to Baglihar and Kishanganaga projects, India has announced five more projects on river Chenab and its distributaries. All are to be constructed in J&K's Doda district, within a 50 kilometre-radius. Hardly a week before the delegations met, A K Gangopadhay, chairperson, National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), announced in New Delhi that NHPC was preparing detailed project reports for the 240 megawatt (MW) Barinium, 340 MW Shamnot, 560 MW Ratle, 430 MW Kiru and 320 MW Karwar projects. Work at Kishanganga project had also begun, he added.
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