UPDATE – Baglihar report: Both India, Pakistan are winners

Although India and Pakistan issued conflicting interpretations of a report resolving their Baglihar Dam dispute, the report itself portrays a �win-win� scenario in the Indus River Basin.

In the executive summary of the report, obtained by HydroNews.net, a �neutral expert� resolved differences between Pakistan and India over India’s project to build the 450-MW first phase of the 900-MW Baglihar Dam in the shared Indus River Basin.

India is building the disputed project on the Chenab River, which flows from Indian Kashmir into Pakistan. Islamabad objected to its design saying it violated the World Bank-brokered Indus Waters Treaty of 1960.

Under treaty terms, the World Bank named Raymond Lafitte, a professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland, to be a neutral expert (NE) to resolve the dispute. Both sides have said they would comply with his findings, which the treaty says are binding.

Lafitte presented his report to the India and Pakistan embassies in Bern February 12, but, under terms of the proceeding, did not make the report public. Both countries then announced the report largely backed their conflicting stands. (HNN 2/12/07)

The executive summary, obtained February 19 by HydroNews.net, portrayed both sides, and the original framers of the treaty, as winners.

�The NE considers that his decision has not been rendered against one or the other party,� Lafitte wrote. �His opinion is that, in fact, specific parties emerge successfully from the treatment of this difference: the authors of the treaty. The treaty is a successful document.�

Overall design upheld, with some technical changes

The report called for changes in three elements of the dam design, reductions in freeboard and pondage and increase in the height of the intakes.

Lafitte noted in the report that the 1960 treaty must be interpreted based on modern technical norms and standards, particularly in regard to a half-century’s operating experience with sediment-heavy rivers such as those in India.

�Everybody recognizes the necessity to take into consideration the lessons of the past, in particular the last decades, from the design, construction, and operation of dams and hydropower plants on rivers with important sediment transport,� the report said.

Pakistan had complained: 1. The dam did not require a gated spillway and the gates were not at the highest level; 2. Design flood and dam height calculations (freeboard) were excessive; 3. Required pondage of 37.5 million cubic meters (MCM) should be reduced to 6.22 MCM; and 4. The power plant intakes were not at the highest level required by the treaty.

The report upheld the spillway configuration, but found, based on International Commission on Large Dams guidelines, that freeboard could be reduced by 1.5 meters. Lafitte also called for a slight reduction of pondage to 32.56 MCM, resulting in a small change in peaking power generation. The report also said the power intakes should be raised 3 meters.

In 2002, a consortium including Voith Siemens Hydro Power Generation and VA Tech Hydro received contracts from India’s Jammu &Kashmir State Power Development Corp. to supply equipment for the 450-MW second stage of Baglihar. Work on the 450-MW first stage was begun in January 2000 by the same consortium. Jaiprakash Industries Ltd. of India performed construction work under a separate contract, while Lahmeyer International of Germany was responsible for planning and project management.

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