Monday, November 29, 1999

Kishenganga project set for arbitration by Intl Court

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New Delhi, Jun 16 (PTI) India and Pakistan are set to fight a legal battle over Kishenganga power project being constructed in Jammu and Kashmir in an international court of arbitration. Pakistan named its experts for arbitration recently, following which India decided to nominate a judge of the Geneva-based International Court of Justice Peter Tomka and a Swiss international law expert Lucius Caflisch to represent it in the Kishenganga project dispute. Pakistan is objecting to construction of 330-MW hydro power plant on Kishenganga, a tributary of the Jhelum in Jammu and Kashmir, and has sought arbitration by the international court under the 1960 Indus Water Treaty. Tomka, was formerly a legal advisor to the Slovak Foreign Ministry while Caflisch is a professor at the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva. Pakistan has already named Bruno Simma, also of the International Court of Justice, and Jan Paulsson, Norwegian head of an international law firm, as its arbitrators in the Court of Arbitration that will be set up to resolve its differences with India under the Indus Water Treaty of 1960. With India appointing its experts, three neutral umpires will now be appointed to the court to resolve the matter between the two countries. One of the neutral umpires will be appointed as the Chairman before the actual proceedings get underway. The court of arbitration route is taken when the issue does not pertain to a technicality and concerns the legal disputes over the interpretation of the Treaty itself. Pakistan is learnt to have sought legal interpretation on two major parameters concerning the diversion of Kishenganga water for the power project in Jammu and Kashmir. First, it has sought the legal interpretation of India''s obligations under the provisions of the Treaty that mandates India to let the water of the Western-flowing Indus Basin Rivers (Chenab, Jhelum and Indus) go to Pakistan and whether or not the Kishenganga project meets those obligations. New Delhi maintains that it is within its rights, under the Treaty, to divert Kishenganga waters to the Bonar Madmati Nullah, another tributary of the Jhelum, which falls into the Wullar Lake before joining the Jhelum again. Pakistan has objected to this, saying India''s plan to divert water causes obstruction to the flow of Kishenganga. As per the provisions of the Treaty, once one of the sides names its arbitrators, the other side has to name its panel within 30 days. India has to send its response on Kishenganga arbitration to Pakistan by tomorrow.

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