Almost a year after it barred India from undertaking any permanent works above the riverbed level at the project site,the International Court of Arbitration at Hague will hold its final hearing next month on the dispute between India and Pakistan over the 330 MW Kishanganga hydro-electric project in Jammu and Kashmir.
Sources said the hearing is scheduled to begin on August 20 and is expected to last for a fortnight. Sources added that the court will examine the witnesses and scrutinise the documents and affidavits submitted by both the countries in the first week. According to the schedule finalised by the court,it is expected to hear arguments of both the sides in the second week. After conclusion of the hearing,the court is expected to pronounce its verdict by the end of this year.
The seven-member court had last year barred India from proceeding with the construction of any permanent works on or above the Kishanganga/Neelum riverbed at the Gurez site that may inhibit the restoration of the full flow of the river to its natural channel in an interim order.
Pakistan had sought an interim stay on all construction activities at the Kishanganga project site.
Following the interim order,a delegation of the Court of Arbitration accompanied by representatives from both the countries visited the Neelum valley earlier this year. The court had made a similar visit to the Kishanganga project site last year as well.
Sources said India has begun preparations for the forthcoming hearing and cross examination of witnesses and perusal of documents.
Water Resources Secretary D V Singh and other top officials have begun discussions with technical experts and the legal team which would be led by senior advocate in the Supreme Court Fali S Nariman and R K P Shankardass.
The government has also hired three foreign lawyers among them Prof Stephen C McCaffrey from McGeorge School of Law and Prof Daniel Barstow Magraw from Johns Hopkins University specialised in international law and arbitration to assist them.
Pakistan had initiated arbitration proceedings against India in 2010 stating that construction of the hydel project was in violation of the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960.