World Bank appoints neutral expert and chairman of Court of Arbitration for ‘Kishanganga’ and ‘Ratle’ hydroelectric project

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The World Bank has appointed a "neutral expert" and a chairman of the Court of Arbitration regarding the Kishanganga and Ratle hydroelectric power plants, in view of disagreements and differences between India and Pakistan over the 1960 Indus Water Treaty.

Under the Indus water treaty if there is a dispute between India and Pakistan on the provisions of the treaty then the World Bank will mediate between the two.

Michel Lino, Chairman of the International Large Dam Commission has been appointed as the Neutral Expert and Sean Murphy has been appointed as Chairman of the Court of Arbitration.

Pakistan asked the World Bank to facilitate the establishment of a Court of Arbitration to consider its concerns about the designs of the two hydroelectric power projects, while India asked for the appointment of a Neutral Expert to consider similar concerns over the two projects.

What is the Indus Waters Treaty?

The 1960 Indus Waters Treaty was mediated by the World Bank and signed by the then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Pakistan's president Ayub Khan.

  • It has allotted western rivers; Indus, Jhelum and Chenab to Pakistan and Eastern flowing rivers; Sutlej, Ravi and Beas to India. 
  • Under the treaty India will not restrict the flow of the river which is assigned to Pakistan but it can use the river for hydroelectric purposes on the condition that the flow of water to Pakistan is not affected significantly.
  • Due to this provision of the Indus water treaty, India has designed the Rattle and the Kishanganga project as run of the river project.

Run of the River project

In the run of the river project, reservoirs are not built for water storage purposes and the natural flow of water from a height is used to run micro turbines to produce electricity.

According to India such hydel projects do not contravene the Indus Water Treaty as river waters are not stored. 

Dispute over Kishanganga and Ratle project 

Kishanganga or Neelum (for Pakistan) is a tributary of river Jhelum. India has constructed a run of the river hydroelectric projects with a capacity of 330 MW in Jammu and Kashmir.

The project was inaugurated by PM Modi in 2018. Pakistan argues that the flow of the river which enters Pakistan has been affected due to the faulty design of the project. 

 Ratle Hydroelectric Project 

It is also a run of the river hydroelectric project being built on the Chenab river in Kishtwar district of Jammu and Kashmir. In 2013 Pakistan government objected to the project as it was a violation of the Indus water treaty. In 2017 the World Bank allowed India to start the project which was opposed by Pakistan. After fresh objections from Pakistan, both countries approached the World Bank. 

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