India is preparing its response to the note verbale sent by Pakistan on the 330 MW Kishanganga hydroelectric project on Kishanganga river, a tributary of Jhelum in Jammu and Kashmir.

Islamabad has threatened to set up a court of arbitration to resolve the issue, even as India maintains that there is no violation of the Indus Waters Treaty and it is well within its rights to divert Kishanganga waters. So far India has said that the matter should be resolved bilaterally.

Under the project, India proposed to divert Kishanganga waters to another tributary of Jhelum, namely Bonar Madmati Nallah, which falls in Wullar Lake and joins the Jhelum thereafter.

Pakistan has objected to this saying that under the provisions of the treaty, India is “under obligation to let flow all the waters of the western rivers and shall not permit any interference with these waters.” It claims that India's plan to divert waters cause obstruction to the flow of Kishanganga.

However, “article III (2) and Para 15 (iii) of th2e Annexure D of the treaty stipulates that where a plant is located in a tributary of the Jhelum on which Pakistan has any agricultural or hydroelectric use, the water released below the project may be delivered, if necessary, into another tributary but only to the extent that the then existing agricultural or hydroelectric use by Pakistan cannot be adversely affected.”

India maintains that Pakistan has not established any existing hydroelectric or substantial agriculture use, therefore, India was entitled to construct the Kishanganga project.

Pakistan has also raised objection to the depletion of dead storage level in the proposed run of the river Kishanganga project. India maintains that, in the Baglihar dam, also constructed by India in Jammu and Kashmir, the neutral expert had given the verdict that for proper operation and maintenance of the reservoir, depletion below dead storage level was necessary to flush out the silt.

The Pakistan and Indian Indus Commissions are scheduled to hold their annual meeting at the end of the month but the Kishanganga project is not on the agenda so far.

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