The World Bank’s decision to hastily set up a Court of Arbitration (CoA) to settle disputes relating to two hydroelectric projects following Pakistan’s demand may raise serious questions on workability of Indus Water Treaty, government said today. Minister of State for External Affairs V K Singh said though there has been delay on India’s request to appoint a neutral expert to resolve differences on Kishenganga and Ratle projects “unreasonable and hasty” timelines were set on Pakistan’s call for appointing the CoA.
Expressing unhappiness over the decision to set up the CoA, Singh replying to a question in Lok Sabha, said India had urged the World Bank to go for more consultations on the matter so that a “legally unteanable” situation of two different mechanisms adjucating the same matter could be avoided. “The World Bank also offered on October 18 an extra-Treaty independent mediator for helping India and Pakistan choose from the aforementioned two modalities for dispute resolution,” he said.
The Minister said the government has strongly protested to the bank on the developments and also conveyed its “grave concerns that these developments may raise serious questions regarding workability of the Indus Water Treaty(IWT).” Under the IWT, signed by India and Pakistan in 1960, the World Bank has a specific role of dispute resolution between the two countries.
To a separate question, Singh said the civil nuclear agreement between India and Japan signed last month will come into force after completion of respective necessary internal procedures by the two countries. Replying to another query, he said the process of India’s membership of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) is expected to be completed by April 2017 as per Memorandum of Obligations of the bloc. Singh, while giving details about MEA’s expenditure on account of contribution to the UN organisations, said Rs 138 crore was paid in 2013-14 while the amount was Rs 157 crore and Rs 244 crore in 2014-15 and 2015-16.