Baglihar, round 2

Published: Monday 15 December 2003

-- Is the Baglihar dam India is building over the river Chenab in Jammu and Kashmir going to come under World Bank intervention? This is what Pakistan would prefer, as was made clear after a meeting held on Monday, November 17, 2003 at the offices of the Pakistan Commission for Indus Waters in Lahore. Indeed, Pakistan has decided it will serve India a second and final notice to settle the "dispute" over the dam by December 31 this year, and again ask New Delhi to suspend construction work.

Pakistan had served the first such notice in June this year, and had asked New Delhi to arrange an inspection tour of the site. The latter complied. The Monday meeting was a detailed briefing by the three-member team that took the tour. At the briefing, also attended by representatives of the foreign office and the water and power ministeries, team members made it clear that Pakistan's apprehension -- that the Baglihar project was being executed in violation of the 1960 bilateral Indus Waters Treaty -- was well-founded. The Indian contention that the site was not suited for ungated spillways was unfounded, the team informed. It also concluded that the pondage facility exceeded twice the storage capacity allowed under the treaty.

Pakistan seems clear: if India fails to resolve the dispute by the December 31 deadline, it will immediately seek the intervention of the World Bank, which brokered the treaty and also stood as its guarantor.

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