April 2005 News

World Bank recommends neutral expert on Baglihar dam issue

28 April 2005
The Hindu
Amit Baruah

New Delhi: India on Thursday said that the World Bank had recommended the appointment of a neutral expert to sort out differences with Pakistan on the design of the Baglihar dam, which is being constructed on the Sutlej River in Jammu and Kashmir. A brief statement from the External Affairs Ministry said: 'We have received a reply from the World Bank recommending appointment of a neutral expert. They have also proposed a panel of three names.' The Bank said on Tuesday it had informed the Indian and Pakistan Governments that it had determined that it is required to comply with Islamabad's request to appoint a neutral expert under the terms of the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty. 'The Bank has now begun the process of consultation required by the Treaty for the appointment of the neutral expert,' the statement said. On January 18, Pakistan requested the World Bank to appoint a neutral expert to help resolve a difference that had arisen between the two parties to the Treaty, India and Pakistan. 'The World Bank is a signatory to the Treaty for certain specified purposes. It is not a guarantor of the Treaty. Many of the purposes for which the World Bank signed the Treaty have been completed,' the statement said. It added that the Bank now had three remaining responsibilities under the Treaty, relating to the settlement of differences and disputes. Disagreements by the parties on the interpretation of the provisions of the Treaty are classified into three categories questions are examined by the Permanent Indus Commission; differences by a neutral expert; and disputes by a Court of Arbitration. According to the Treaty, the remaining responsibilities of the World Bank are: '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 World Bank, in consultation with the two countries, would make the appointment of the neutral expert. 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,' the statement added.


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