NEW DELHI, March 27: A 13-member delegation from Pakistan led by Water and Power Secretary; Imtiaz Kazi, resumed secretary level talks with Indian counterparts in New Delhi on Tuesday, with a motive to resolve the dispute over India’s plans to build a dam on River Jhelum, on its side of Kashmir.
The Indian team, led by Water Resources Secretary D.V. Singh sought to find an immediate solution, so as to resume work on the project once again.
India started building the dam in the mid-1980s to help make the River Jhelum navigable throughout the year, but had to suspend work after Pakistan complained that the Jhelum’s currents would be slowed in its territory, and that the work violated a water-sharing pact.
State officials from both countries have met several times in recent years to discuss what India calls the Tulbul Navigation Project and what Pakistan refers to as the Wullar Barrage.
The last round of talks was held in Islamabad last year after a long hiatus.
Nine rounds of secretary-level talks have been held since the project was stalled, followed by five more meetings in 1998, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007 between the two countries.
The 1960 Indus Water Treaty governs the use of the water flowing down rivers, which rise in the Indian part of Kashmir and flow into the Indus river basin in Pakistan.
Under the accord, India has the use of water from three rivers in the east – the Sutlej, Beas, and Ravi.
Pakistan was awarded use of the waters of the western rivers – the Indus, Chenab and Jhelum.
But, Pakistan accuses India of violating the treaty by reducing the flow of water down the rivers it was awarded use of.
Pakistan also objects to India’s Baglihar hydropower and water storage project on the River Chenab.
Indian denies any unfair diversion of Pakistan’s water.
Some Indian analysts say Pakistani complaints are aimed at diverting attention within Pakistan from the internal water row.
The inconclusive outcome mirrors the slow progress made by the nuclear-armed neighbours since peace talks began in 2004, with the core dispute being Kashmir.