MEA must ensure that the Indus Water Treaty is implemented in letter and spirit

On Wednesday, the government said the Indus Water Treaty should be implemented in the “letter and spirit” of the Treaty, a day after the World Bank appointed a “neutral expert” and Chairman of the Court of Arbitration to resolve disagreements between India and Pakistan over Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric power plants.

“We have noted the World Bank’s announcement to simultaneously appoint a Neutral Expert and a Chair of the Court of Arbitration for the ongoing case related to the Kishenganga and Ratle projects,” the Ministry of External Affairs stated.

As the World Bank has acknowledged in its announcement that “conducting two processes simultaneously poses practical and legal challenges”, India will review the issue. The Indian government adheres to the letter and spirit of the Indus Water Treaty in the implementation of the Treaty.

In the MEA statement, Michel Lino was named Neutral Expert, and Prof. Sean Murphy was appointed Chairman of the Court of Arbitration, a day after the World Bank appointed Michel Lino as a Neutral Expert. They will perform their duties in their individual capacities as subject matter experts independent of any other appointments they may hold, the World Bank stated in a statement on October 17.

As required by the Indus Waters Treaty, the World Bank has made the appointments it was mandated to make for the Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric power plants based on the two separate processes requested by India and Pakistan.

There is a disagreement between the two countries as to whether the technical design elements of these two hydroelectric plants violate the Treaty. Pakistan requested that the World Bank facilitate the establishment of a Court of Arbitration to address its concerns regarding the designs of the two hydroelectric power projects. In contrast, India requested the appointment of a Neutral Expert to address similar concerns.

‘The World Bank shares the parties’ concerns that conducting the two processes concurrently poses practical and legal challenges. According to the World Bank, it is confident the highly qualified experts appointed as Neutral Experts and as members of the Court of Arbitration will conduct a fair and careful investigation of their jurisdictional mandate, as empowered by the Treaty.

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