Talks between Pakistan and India over Indus Water Treaty have begun in New Delhi after two and a half years.

The delegations from both the sides are discussing ways to resolve the longstanding dispute of hydroelectric projects, Pakal Dul and Lower Kalnai dams, which India is building on the River Chenab.

Pakistan is of the view that India’s plan of hydroelectric plants on the Chenab in the area of Kashmir will disrupt the flow of the river.

On the other hand, Indian authorities said that they are allowed by the Indus Water Treaty brokered by the World Bank to construct the plants.

Pakistan’s Indus Commissioner Syed Mehr Ali Shah said that they will not deviate from the stance regarding the controversial hydro projects of India. India so far has built multiple multi-purpose dams on rivers which belongs to Pakistan exclusively according to IWT. Indian projects enable Delhi to block the flow of these rivers for many days when she deems it necessary. Pakistani food and energy experts are in agreement that this Indian ability can compromise Pakistan’s own agriculture and hydro-power generation projects to a strategic extent.

In the past, Pakistan had gone to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) with a plea to stop India from building these dams. India, in 2005, had to change design of Balihar Dam on Chenab river.

It is the first meeting on IWT after India abrogated the special status of occupied Kashmir in August 2019. Last year’s talks couldn’t take place due to COVID-19 pandemic. Talks on water  with India are important for Pakistan as the country is struggling with ensuing water crises. The situation of water in India is also no different and governments in both the countries are under tremendous pressure on IWT issue. With growing water crisis, this issue of water availability has become a major governance issue with clear public emotions involved.

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