New Delhi (Sputnik) – In the backdrop of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s threat to stop flow of water from the Indus basin, Islamabad has started working on a $2.4 billion hydroelectric power project on river Jhelum in Pakistan administered Kashmir. Pakistan has awarded $2.4 billion construction work contract to China’s Three Gorges Corporation. 1124 MegaWatt project will be largest power project in the region which lies 224 Kilometer from Muzzafarabad. The project is expected to be completed by 2023-24.
The hydroelectric project is part of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, a 3000 kilometer long network of road, railway and energy infrastructures passing through disputed Kashmir region over which where India and have remained at loggerheads since1948. India’s reservations on the project have so far gone unheeded to China.
“Currently, there is little that India can do to stall CPEC except for diplomatically articulating its objections and make it un-implementable. But it is unlikely that diplomatic statements alone will cause the project’s deferment,” writes Priyanka Singh, associate fellow at Institute of Defense Studies and Analyses.
India had raked up the Indus Water Sharing Agreement after 18 Indian soldiers were killed by terrorists last year. India claims that those terrorists came after crossing the border from Pakistan. “The water of the Sutlej, Beas and Ravi, over which our farmers have their right, is not available to them. The water of these rivers is the right of India and our farmers. This water cannot be allowed to flow into Pakistan,” Indian Prime Minister Modi told in November last year.
Modi’s warning to Pakistan had evoked sharp reaction from Islamabad which responded that Pakistan will not accept Indian aggression in any form and any Indian step for disrupting water flow as upper riparian will pertain to considerable risk of war and hostilities.
The World Bank-brokered Indus Water Treaty has withstood many ebbs and low of Indo-Pak ties including three wars. India feels the treaty is lop-sided as it is allowed to use only 20 percent of the water that flows from the first three rivers of the Indus basin while water from the other three rivers allocated to India flows freely into Pakistan.
Meanwhile, India and Pakistan officials may convene a meeting very soon in accordance with Indus Water Treaty. Permanent Indus Commission meeting will be scheduled in coming months as it is mandatory under the treaty to meet once in a year. The last meeting of the commission was held in July 2016.
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