India and Pakistan have differences over the design of 330 MW Kishenganga in the Jhelum basin and 850 MW Ratle hydroelectric project on Chenab.
Kishenganga project had been in operation since 2018 while work on Ratle stands abandoned since 2014 due to a contractual dispute between the Govt of J&K and the contractor.
After prolonged negotiations, India in 2016 sought the appointment of a Neutral Expert to resolve this issue while Pakistan made a request for the appointment of a Court of Arbitration (COA).
The World Bank(WB) initially proceeded with both with the process of appointment of Neutral Expert and constituting the Court of Arbitration but later, in December 2016 instituted a ‘pause’ on both the processes to allow both the parties to bilaterally choose one option with the help of its good offices. Under the Treaty, the WB has only the procedural role and there is no provision for the World Bank to take an independent decision in this regard.
The pause is still continued. In between, two trilateral meetings at Secretary Level were held in Washington at World Bank office in August and September 2017 but the logjam persisted.
In November 2019 , after a meeting of the Indian delegation headed by Secretary, DoWR, RD&GR with the World Bank to explore a way forward it was agreed that the matter may be discussed by the two Commissioners as per the Treaty provisions to decide the mode of resolution i.e. by the CoA or the Neutral Expert.
Accordingly, Indian Commissioner invited PCIW in February 2020 to hold the meeting of the PIC. On the request of Pakistan, the same was scheduled in the last week of March 2020. However, the same was deferred due to the current pandemic.
Considering the fact that it may take some time for the pandemic situation to normalise and for the international travel to be resumed, the Indian Commissioner, in the first week of July 2020 proposed to hold the meeting through video conference or any alternate means. In response, PCIW in his letter sent in the last week of July insisted to hold the conventional meeting at Atari Joint Check post instead.
Indian Commissioner in his response this week stated that the situation in India is still not conducive for travelling of his delegation and holding the meeting at Attari JCP as proposed by PCIW and may take some time to allow such meetings at Attari JCP or New Delhi as desired by him. Indian Commissioner also requested to consider holding the virtual meeting as a viable option to discuss the pending and new issues.
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