April 2005 News

WB moves to name expert on Baglihar

26 April 2005
The Dawn
Anwar Iqbal

Washington: The World Bank announced on Tuesday it was ready to appoint a neutral expert to resolve the Baglihar dam water dispute between India and Pakistan. “(We have) informed the governments of India and Pakistan that the World Bank has determined that it is required to comply with the request of the government of Pakistan to appoint a Neutral Expert under the terms of the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty,” the announcement said. “The Bank has now begun the process of consultation required by the treaty for the appointment of the neutral expert,” it added. “The World Bank has every confidence that the procedures envisaged in this sound and long-standing treaty will serve all parties as originally agreed by the signatories,” a bank official said. The Indus Waters Treaty was concluded by India and Pakistan on September 19, 1960. The World Bank is a signatory to the treaty for certain specified purposes. It is not a guarantor of the treaty. Bank officials say that many of the purposes for which the World Bank signed the treaty have been completed. There are now three remaining responsibilities for the World Bank under the Treaty, relating to settlement of differences and disputes. — One, a role for the World Bank in the appointment of a neutral expert. The first step under the treaty is to resolve any ‘question’ through the Permanent Indus Commission itself. If the ‘question’ is not resolved there, it becomes a ‘difference’ and is referred to a neutral expert, to be appointed by the two countries, or by a third party agreed upon by the two countries. In the absence of such an agreement, the appointment of the neutral expert would be made by the World Bank in consultation with the two countries. The decision of the neutral expert on all matters within his competence shall be final and binding. — Two, the management by the World Bank of a trust fund to meet the expenses of a neutral expert. — Three, a role for the World Bank in the establishment of a court of arbitration. If the ‘difference’ does not fall within the mandate of the neutral expert, or if the neutral expert rules that the ‘difference’ should be treated as a ‘dispute’, then a court of arbitration would be established. The role of the World Bank, along with other institutions such as the secretary-general of the United Nations, is to participate in the selection of three appointees to the seven- person court. The parties to the treaty each select two members of the court. The World Bank itself plays no part in the actual hearing or determination of the issues before the tribunal. Disagreements by the parties on the interpretation of the provisions of the treaty are classified into three categories — Questions These are examined by the Permanent Indus Commission. — Differences, which are examined by a neutral expert. — And disputes that are examined by a court of arbitration. Under the Indus Water Treaty, these are some of the disputes that can be referred to a neutral expert — Determination of the component of water available for the use of Pakistan in the Ravi Main, at various points on the Ravi or the Sutlej, on account of the deliveries by Pakistan. — Determination of the boundary of the drainage basin of the Indus or the Jhelum or the Chenab. — Whether or not any use of water or storage in addition to that provided under the treaty is involved in any of the schemes and carried out by India on the Western Rivers. — Questions arising as to whether any action taken by either Party is likely to have the effect of diverting the Ravi Main between Madhopur and Lahore, or the Sutlej Main between Harike and Suleimanke, from its natural channel between high banks. — Determination of withdrawals to be made by India. — Determination of schedule of releases from Conservation Storage. — Whether or not any new agricultural use by India, on those tributaries of the Jhelum on which there is any agricultural use or hydro-electric use by Pakistan, conforms to the provisions of the treaty. — Whether or not the operation of a storage work, which was in operation when the treaty was signed substantially conforms to its provisions. — Whether or not any part of the storage in a connecting lake is the result of man-made works constructed after the effective date. — Whether or not any flood control work constructed on the Jhelum Main conforms to the provisions of the treaty.


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