LAHORE  -   A Pakistani delegation will travel today (Sunday) to India and hold talks on resolving the thorny water issues between the two countries under the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) signed by the rival states in 1960.

According to details, a three-member delegation, led by Indus Water Commissioner Mehr Ali Shah, will visit India for inspection of Indian hydroelectric projects construction in the Chenab basin, as mandated by the IWT. It will be the first official engagement with India on water issues since the new government of Prime Minister Imran Khan came to power in August last year. The Pakistan delegation is set to inspect the Lower Kulnai and Pakal Dal projects being constructed over the Chenab River. Syed Mehr Ali Shah said that the Indian authorities have also hinted at allowing the inspection of other controversial projects during the January 27 to February 1 visit.

He said that “Initially, India was not ready for the talks; but we kept in touch with them under the Indus Water Treaty,” adding that, “India agreed to the visit by the Pakistan delegation after Pakistan forcefully raised the issue on Indian violation of the treaty.”

He said that an Indian delegation led by its water commissioner PK Sexena visited Pakistan in August and it was agreed between the two countries that all the issues between the two countries would be resolved under the IWT.

Earlier, Pakistan had raised serious concerns over the designs particularly 1,000MW Pakal Dul and 48MW Lower Kalnai projects on River Chenab, and termed them violation of Indus Water Treaty.

Pakistan argued that India could use these reservoirs to create artificial water shortage or flooding in Pakistan, demanding India to allow inspection of various hydroelectric projects.

The Indus, the Jhelum and the Chenab rivers are reserved for Pakistan and the Ravi, the Beas and the Sutlej Rivers are reserved for India under the IWT signed between the neighbouring states in 1960. According to the treaty, India cannot divert the water flows of rivers reserved for Pakistan.