Controversial Kishanganga hydropower project

ISLAMABAD: India will submit its reply regarding environmental impact on River Neelam due to the construction of controversial 330MW Kishanganga hydropower project in the International Court of Arbitration (ICA) today (Wednesday) as was asked by the court during the last hearing held at the August end.During last hearing held at Hague (Holland), the head of the ICA and former chief justice of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Stephen Schwebel, asked the legislative technical team of India to submit the answer about the study initiated for Environmental Impact (EI) on trans-boundary during the construction of Kishanganga hydropower project until September 7.

Well-placed sources informed that India continued the construction work on the project, because Pakistani authorities couldn’t so far succeed in convincing the court for granting a stay order against the construction of the controversial project by India on Pak-India water tributary setting aside the Indus Water Treaty (IWT), 1960.Because it was also learnt that during the last hearing, the Indian lawyers questioned before the court why the Pakistani authorities did not ask for a stay order during the hearing held in January 2011. On the other hand, Pakistani delegation led by Kamal Majeedullaha could not satisfy the jury of the ICA while the court refused to grant a stay order against the construction work of the project.

The entire jury of the ICA, headed by Schwebel, visited Neelam-Jehlum and Kishanganga hydropower projects having installed capacity 969 and 330 megawatts respectively to ascertain the environmental impact.However, no single one environmental expert from India and Pakistan was available to deliver the presentation over the environmental losses, while the Pakistani authorities hired a private contractor, Haggler Bailey, against the heavy funding for his services, while he also failed to satisfy the jurist team of the ICA.

On the other hand, a public concern on the Indian side sparked off about the power giant National Hydel Power Corporation (NHPC), which was all set to acquire at least 4,200 kanals of land in Gurez area of north Kashmir’s Bandipora district for the dam, which could cause the displacement of 150 families on the Indian side.

While diverting Kishanganga under the proposed project would lead to drastically reduced flow in the River Neelam, the Indians took the stance that reduction in flow would be limited to 10 percent only, while the water experts rejected the Indian posture as saying that the Indian calculation about flow at Nauseri is based on annual average, which is absolutely wrong.The place where the intake for Neelam-Jehlum hydropower project is designed, 60 to 70 percent of total flow that is approximately 343,100 cusecs at Nauseri, drained out during three to four months of the whole year after completion of the Indian project.

Other then the worst impact on the Neelam Valley, the Jehlum Valley in Pakistan is stretched from Chakothi (entry point of River Jhelum) to Domel (Muzaffarabad) would also become victims of abnormal excessive flow of the River Jehlum.The un-natural flow of water in the Basin of River Jehlum would cause flooding threats to road and built-up public/ private infrastructures in addition to agriculture losses. – Dailytimes