No decision yet to suspend Indus panel

Indus Commissioner P.K. Saxena is in Washington to discuss India’s position on the Kishenganga hydro-power project with World Bank officials. — File Photo: Nissar Ahmad  

India has not yet taken a decision to suspend but was in the process of “reviewing” its decision to stay on in the Indus Commission, according to water resources secretary Shashi Shekhar, who was part of the team that briefed Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday on India’s continued participation in the Indus Water Treaty.

India’s Indus Commissioner P.K. Saxena is in Washington to discuss with World Bank officials India’s position on the Kishenganga hydro-power project, an older dispute going on with Pakistan over building a run-of-the-river project that proposes to divert water from the Kishenganga river to the Jhelum river basin.

“There is no decision yet to suspend the [Indus] Commission and we are reviewing our participation,” Mr. Shekhar told The Hindu

‘Mission mode’

He, however, emphasised that India would pursue in “mission mode” its plans to ramp up hydroelectric power projects and utilise “to the fullest” what was due to it under the water-sharing agreements under the pact. This would mean commissioning or completing hydro-power projects and expanding irrigation in Jammu and Kashmir by about 50 per cent.

“Expanding irrigation capacity won’t be a huge cost. At an average of Rs. 5 crore per megawatt, Rs 50,000 crore could be invested in hydro-projects there. It will greatly benefit Jammu and Kashmir,” he added. However there was no final decision yet on budgetary allocation.

Declaring that “blood and water cannot flow together”, Prime Minister Modi on Monday held a meeting of senior officials from the Water Resources and External Affairs Ministries and the PMO to discuss the government’s options on the treaty.

While the meeting decided to suspend further water talks and increase the utilisation of rivers flowing through Jammu and Kashmir to maximise India’s share, there was no decision on either reviewing or abrogating the treaty, official sources said.

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