Lahore to be venue for India-Pak talks on Indus Water Treaty

NEW DELHI
6 Mar 2017

Parleys between India and Pakistan on various aspects of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) will be held in Lahore on March 20 and March 21.

The meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) will take place nearly six months after New Delhi decided to suspend talks on the pact in the wake of the Uri terror attack by Pakistan-based outfits. The meeting is being held "as the IWT, 1960 makes it mandatory" to hold parleys under the accord at least once in a fiscal. India's Indus water commissioner and MEA officials will be part of the Indian delegation for the annual meeting. The last meeting of the PIC was held in May 2015 here.

Meanwhile, a top Union government source today said:
"The agenda for the meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission (PIC) has not been finalised yet but India is always open to settling issues relating to the pact with Pakistan bilaterally." While there is no confirmation so far whether issues relating to these two projects will figure during the two-day meet as they are before the WB, the source said Pakal Dul, Miyar and Lower Kalnai may be discussed.

"Pakistan has been raising concern over designs of the three projects for at least two-three years now. "These issues may be discussed as there has not been any resolution yet," the source said, but stressed "these projects do not violate the pact". Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai are being built in Jammu and Kashmir at cost of Rs 7464 crore (November 2008 price level) and Rs 396 crore respectively. Miyar hydroelectricity project, located in Himachal Pradesh's Lahaul Spiti district, is estimated to cost Rs 1125 crore.

The PIC's meeting, to be attended by India's Indus water commissioner and MEA officials, will take place nearly six months after New Delhi decided to suspend talks on the pact in the wake of the Uri terror attack by Pakistan-based outfits.
The PIC had last met in May 2015 here. India had on Friday downplayed its participation in the upcoming meeting in Pakistan to discuss issues relating to sharing of Indus river water, saying it does not amount to resumption of government-level India-Pak talks.

Declaring that "blood and water cannot flow together", Prime Minister Narendra Modi had held a meeting in September to review the treaty in the backdrop of the terror strikes, including the Uri attack. After the meeting, officials had announced that the government has decided to suspend further talks and increase the utilisation of rivers flowing through J&K to fully exercise India's rights under the pact.