ISLAMABAD: Special assistant to prime minister on water and agriculture, Kamal Majidulllah, has misled the nation by speaking half truth that the court of arbitration (CoA) at The Hague has stopped India from constructing any permanent works on or above the Kishanganga/Neelum River bed at the Gurez site that may inhibit the restoration of the flow of the river to its natural channel.
This time, Majidullah who is also Pakistan’s agent in the case of Kishengange project, befooled the nation like it happened during the Musharraf regime when former federal minister for water and power Liaqaut Jatoi, former secretary water and power Ashfaq Mehmood and former commissioner of PCIW (Pakistan Commission of Indus Water) Jamaat Ali Shah had misled the nation by saying Pakistan had won the case of Baglihar hydropower project, which was not the case.
Majidullah should have held a press conference over the ‘achievement’ but he cleverly used the undisputed platform of the Presidency for issuing a statement that CoA has stopped India from constructing any permanent works on or above the Kishanganga/Neelum River bed at the Gurez site that might inhibit the restoration of the flow of the river to its natural channel.
However, New Delhi has now come up with a forceful contradiction of the interpretation by Pakistan of the interim decision. Quoting the International Court of Arbitration it said that India can “continue with all works” related to the Kishanganga hydro-electric project in Jammu and Kashmir except any permanent work on the riverbed that may inhibit restoration of the river’s full flow”.
In the interim ruling issued on Friday the court in The Hague, which was approached by Pakistan, said it was necessary to lay down certain interim measures in order to “avoid prejudice to the final solution” of the dispute as provided under the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960.
While proceedings continued at the Court, the ruling said, it “is open to India to continue with all works relating to the Kishanganga hydro-electric project” except “any permanent works on or above the Kishanganga-Neelum riverbed at the Gurez site that may inhibit the restoration of the full flow of that river to its natural channel” after the final verdict.
The ruling, a copy of which is available with The News, stated that India “could proceed with the construction of the sub-surface foundations” of the dam, “erect temporary cofferdams and operate the by-pass tunnel it has said to have completed”, “temporarily dry out the riverbed of the Kishanganga-Neelum at the Gurez valley” and “excavate the riverbed.”
The interim ruling further said India “may utilise the temporary diversion tunnel it is said to have completed at the Gurez site, and may construct and complete temporary cofferdams to permit the operation of the temporary diversion tunnel.”
However, CoA has given some relief to Pakistan just because of the campaign that Pakistan’s print and electronic media has launched against India, highlighting that the environment of the Neelum Valley would be destroyed in case Kishangnage project gets completed.
When contacted Arshad H Abbasi, an eminent water expert said: “We all ought to wait for official press release of CoA. In case of Baglihar dam former secretary water & power had claimed victory, but two years later when I got access to all the papers it occurred that Pakistan had actually lost the case to India”.