ISLAMABAD               -            Pakistan and India are planning to convene the annual meeting of Permanent Indus Commission in the COVID-19 situation using alternative means.

The meeting of the Water Commission was due in March but was postponed due to emergency situation due to COVID-19, official source told The Nation here Thursday.

It was mutually agreed that the meeting scheduled for March 2020 be postponed and now it has been decided to convene the meeting through alternative means, the source said. India has shown its readiness to convene the meeting using alternative means, the source added. However, it has yet to be decided what online resource should be utilized for interaction between both the commissioners. The source said that during the meeting, Pakistan will demand India for sharing flood data on daily basis.

The Treaty is being implemented through Permanent Indus Commission. The two Commissioners from both sides (Pakistan and India) together form the Permanent Indus Commission. Each Commissioner, unless either government decides to take up any particular question directly with the other government, is the representative of his government for all matters arising out of the Treaty, and serves as the regular channel of communication on all matters relating to the implementation of the Treaty.

Permanent Indus Commission is required to meet regularly (at least once a year) to review implementation of the Treaty and to make every effort to settle promptly any question arising between the parties. The major functions of the Commission are to establish and maintain a co-operative arrangement for the implementation of the Treaty and to promote co-operation between the parties in the development of the waters of the Rivers. Under the treaty the Commission will meet regularly (at least once a year) to review implementation of the Treaty. The commission works to make effort to settle any question arising between both the countries, to undertake tours of inspection of the rivers to ascertain facts, exchange of daily gauge and discharge data of the rivers and supply of advance flood information.

Under Article VIII(5), the meetings (annual and special) of the Permanent Indus Commission comprising Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters and Indian Commissioner for Indus Waters, are held alternately in Pakistan and India before 1st June every year in order to finalize the Annual Reports of the Commission for the preceding year ending on 31 March. The Article VIII(5) states that:“The Commission shall meet regularly at least once a year, alternately in India and Pakistan. This regular annual meeting shall be held in November or in such other month as may be agreed upon between the Commissioners. The Commission shall also meet when requested by either Commissioner”. During the meeting, the Commission records report of the activities undertaken during the preceding year and chalks out activities for the next year. The Commission further discusses the issues which are on the agenda with mutual consent.

A flood cell is established in Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters each year in the monsoon season which works round the clock from 1st July to 10th October to receive and disseminate flood information to the user agencies in Pakistan. Under the agreement reached between Commissioners of the two countries, advance information about flood/base flows in respect of the Indus, Jhelum, Chenab, Sutlej, Beas and Ravi rivers, is obtained through telephone from India on daily/hourly basis and passed on to the Federal Flood Commission, Flood Forecasting Division and Warning Centre, Lahore, Punjab irrigation Department and other user agencies/stakeholders.