LAHORE -  As India has accepted Pakistan’s invitation to attend the Indus Water Treaty talks in Lahore, the All Pakistan Business Forum (APBF) has asked the government to warn the Indian commissioner against fast-tracked construction of hydropower projects worth $15 billion in Indian Occupied Kashmir and disrupting water supplies to Pakistan.

APBF Presidnet Ibrahim Qureshi said that it is good that the Indian Commissioner of the Permanent Indus Commission has accepted his Pakistani counterpart's invitation for talks on the Indus Waters Treaty scheduled to be held in Pakistan. It is the time for Pakistan to raise the issue of dams’ construction by the Indian government, depriving Pakistan of its due share of water, Qureshi said.

It seems that finally India has realised the importance of this mechanism under the Indus Waters Treaty for resolving water disputes related to the Indus water and its tributaries, he added. He said that six hydro projects in Indian-held Kashmir either cleared viability tests or the more advanced environment and forest expert approvals in the last few months. Together these projects on the Chenab River, would triple hydropower generation in Occupied Kashmir from the current level of 3,000 MW.

The Commission, which is mandated to meet at least once every year, alternately in Pakistan and India, comprises Indus Commissioners from both sides and discusses technical matters related to the implementation of the treaty. It has met 112 times since 1960.

Qureshi said that the upcoming meeting on the treaty should raise concern over the Kishenganga of 330MW and Ratle of 850MW hydroelectric power plants, being built by India on the Kishenganga and Chenab rivers, respectively.

He said that this is an opportunity for the two countries to begin to resolve the issue in an amicable manner and in line with the spirit of the treaty rather than pursuing concurrent processes that could make the treaty unworkable.

He said that India has fast-tracked hydropower projects of around $15 billion in Occupied Kashmir, ignoring warnings from Islamabad that power stations on rivers, flowing into Pakistan, will disrupt water supply. Qureshi urged Pakistan to oppose these projects, as they violate the World Bank treaty on the sharing of the Indus River and its tributaries upon which 80 percent of Pakistan irrigated agriculture depends.

He said that Pakistan's water supply is also dwindling because of climate change, outdated farming techniques and an exploding population. He said New Delhi could use these projects as a way to control Pakistan's supplies from the Indus, seen as its jugular vein. The cumulative effect of these projects could give India the ability to store enough water to limit the supply to Pakistan at crucial moments in the growing season, he said.