Islamabad: Downplaying the recent verdict by International Court of Arbitration upholding India's right to divert water from the Kishanganga hydro project, Pakistan said on Tuesday it was not a legal defeat for the country. Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said that the arbitration award was not a legal defeat for Pakistan.
He said that Pakistan had put two questions of legal nature before the Court of Arbitration which were within its jurisdiction for determination. "The Court has given its conclusive determination on one question while on the second the final award will be given later in December".
The two questions, he said, were first whether India's proposed diversion of water from Kishanganga into another tributary breached the Indus Water Treaty and second if such a diversion was allowed whether there were limits on the quantum of water diversion.
Babar said that on the second question the Court categorically stated that the treaty did not permit reduction below dead storage of the water level in the reservoirs of run-of-river plants on the Western Rivers and India could not even flush water to such an extent that would deplete it dead storage level.
This condition applies not only at Kishanganga but for all future run-of-river hydroelectric plants according to the court award, he said.
He said this clear interpretation prohibiting India from depleting water below the dead storage level is a major relief for Pakistan as it protected the country's right to receive uninterrupted water supplies on the western rivers. "The uninterrupted flow, as much as the quantum, of water was critical for crops as delayed flows have seriously undermined crops in Pakistan due to late sowing," he said.
"The award had protected this right of Pakistan," Babar said.
Babar said that India has planned 150 run-of-river power plants on the western rivers of which 47 are above 50 MW's which made this particular decision very significant for Pakistan.
"Without such clear direction by the Court, the construction of these storage-oriented power plants by India, in the manner it has been seeking to build in the past, could have seriously undermined Pakistan's right of uninterrupted water flows from the western rivers," he said.
"Therefore while water may be diverted for power generation the power is to be constructed and operated in a manner that ensures a constant minimum flow of water in the Kanchenjunga/Vellum River".
He said that for determining of minimum flow regime the Court has asked both India and Pakistan to provide flow data and other details. A final award will be given later in December and in this context the decision was not yet conclusive, he said.