December 22, 2013 12:27:09 am
In a big win for India,the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague has upheld its rights over Pakistans to allow Delhi to go ahead with its 330 MW Kishanganga project in Jammu & Kashmir.
The only minor caveat added by the court,which delivered its verdict late Friday night,was that India will have to maintain a minimum flow of 9 cumecs of water downstream,where Pakistan is building its Neelum-Jhelum hydro-electric project. This will amount to a loss of no more than 6 per cent annually in power generation from the Kishanganga project.
This final award imposes no further restrictions on the operation of (the Kishanganga project), said the court. The right to build and operate the Kishanganga project as we want is a major victory for us, A K Bajaj,former chairman of the Central Water Commission,who was involved in the arbitration process at the time of arguments,said.
However,the court also ruled that the prohibition on reduction (of water) below dead storage level in the reservoirs of run-of-river plants on the western rivers will apply to all future projects on west-flowing rivers. This is a minor setback for India as it had assumed to have won the rights to use the technology to flush below dead storage levels following a favourable ruling in 2007 in the case of the 450 MW Baglihar dam.
However,the prohibition on the use of this technology will only apply to future projects and,hence,Baglihar and Kishanganga projects are exempt.
Bajaj believes this provision wont hurt India much. India is allowed to use this technology in Kishanganga as well as Baglihar. This is very good for the Kishanganga project. As for future projects,there is very little scope for such large projects. Otherwise,we can always manage without drawdown flushing technology, he said.
While the mandatory requirement to maintain 9 cumecs of water flow downstream from Kishanganga would entail some loss in power generation over 19 per cent during the lean flow period (October-March) the Hague court felt it did not make the project unviable. It also stressed that this was a liberal condition as,on environmental considerations alone,a condition to release no less than 12 cumecs of water downstream could have been imposed.
Sources at the Water Resources Ministry said the provision for minimum water flow downstream had been already built into the project.
Both countries have been allowed to seek reconsideration of the minimum flow limit seven years after the diversion of water.
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