Water-talks: Pakistani delegation leaves for India

Delegates to hold dialogue on issue of providing advance information on floodwaters

A five-member Pakistani delegation will leave for India today (Sunday) for the 118th bilateral meeting at the Permanent Commission on Indus Waters (PCIW) level.

The delegation headed by Indus Water Commissioner Syed Mehar Ali Shah, including DG Met Office, GM Nespak, Punjab Irrigation Department’s chief engineer and DG Ministry of Foreign Affairs on India Desk will reach New Delhi through Wagha Border, where the dialogue will take place.

According to sources, the talks will be held on May 30 and 31. The agenda of the meeting includes a schedule of joint inspection of barrages while the talks will be held in New Delhi. They said that both delegates will hold dialogue on the pertaining issues related to the water sector and the issue of providing advance information on floodwaters was also on the agenda. “The annual report of Indus Water Commissioners will be finalized during the meeting,” they said, adding that the Pakistani delegation will also point out the construction of dams at eastern rivers with their counterparts. “Implementing the Indus Waters Treaty in letter and spirit is the key purpose of holding the dialogue between two countries,” they added.

Before leaving for India, Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters Syed Muhammad Mehr Ali Shah told the media that Pakistan always insisted on the implementation of the Indus Waters Treaty and raised its concern over the related issues. However, he said that during this visit, the delegation will not visit the under-construction Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai dams.

“There will be talks on the sharing of flood forecast data while the PCIW (Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Water) annual report will also be discussed during the negotiations,” he said.

Shah said the Pakistani delegation will not visit under construction Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai dams but they and other projects will come under discussion.

On the other hand, the Indian media reported that both delegations are expected to deliberate on 1,000MW Pakal Dul under Article IX of the Indus Waters Treaty, 48MW Lower Kalnai and 624MW Kiru project hydropower projects being built by India on the west-flowing rivers.

The Pakistani delegation will return on June 1. Earlier, talks were held in Pakistan in March.

In March, the two countries had reiterated their commitment to implement the Indus Waters Treaty and expressed the hope that the next meeting of the Permanent Indus Commission would be held at an early date in India.

Pakistan had raised serious objections over the spillway and freeboard of the Pakal Dul project, demanding a visit to the site in the early part of May.

Samiullah Randhawa is a correspondent covering environment, climate change, food, water and ecology. He is an International Center For Journalists alumnus and a fellow at Kettering Foundation Ohio, USA. He has won two Agahi Awards for reporting on climate change and water crisis. He tweets @sami_randhawa and can be reached at samiullahfarid@gmail.com.