Update: World Bank denies Pakistan’s request for court of arbitration over India’s Kishanganga

The World Bank said it still remains committed to helping Pakistan resolve issues associated with the construction of India’s Kishanganga plant “in an amicable manner”, the organization has denied Pakistan’s call for a court of arbitration.

Pakistani officials met with the World Bank earlier this week following the official inauguration of the 330 MW hydropower plant, claiming Kishanganga and others being built by India violate terms of the Indus Water Treaty.

The World Bank has acted as a mediator between the countries since the accord was signed in 1960 and said, “an agreement on the way forward was not reached”, but noted “several procedural options for resolving the disagreement over the interpretation of the treaty’s provisions were discussed.”

The bank noted its role is “limited and procedural”, with its primary responsibility being the designation of people to fulfill certain roles to settle differences when requested by either or both countries.

How Pakistan and India might proceed to settle their differences now is unclear, but the World Bank said it remains committed to helping assist in the process.

“The Indus Waters Treaty is a profoundly important international agreement that provides an essential cooperative framework for India and Pakistan to address current and future challenges of effective water management to meet human needs and achieve development goals,” the World Bank said in a statement.

If it had been approved, the court of arbitration would follow a summit of secretary-level authorities hosted by the World Bank in September, at which point the World Bank said it would continue working with India and Pakistant to “resolve the issues in an amicable manner.”

The World Bank urged Pakistan and India to agree to mediation last November after India announced it would boycott a court of arbitration requested by Pakistan, followed by a move by Pakistan that saw its two parliamentary committees ask India to immediately stop work on Kishanganga and the 840-MW Ratle its projects in January.

Pakistan previously lost a challenge considered by the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague in February 2013, at which point it said Kishanganga might reduce the capacity of its Neelum-Jhelum plant by diverting water.

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Michael Harris formerly was Editor for HydroWorld.com.

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