Representatives from India and Pakistan attended a two-day meeting of Neutral Expert proceedings in the Kishenganga and Ratle matter at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in Vienna, Austria on Wednesday and Thursday, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
According to an official release, the meeting was conducted by the Neutral Expert appointed at India’s request under the aegis of the Indus Waters Treaty. The Indian delegation was headed by the Secretary of the Department of Water Resources. Senior advocate Harish Salve was present as India’s lead counsel.
“India’s participation in this meeting is in line with India’s consistent, principled stand that as per the graded mechanism provided for in the Indus Waters Treaty, the Neutral Expert proceedings are the only valid proceedings at this juncture,” read the MEA statement.
India also criticised the parallel proceedings being held on the same issues regarding the Kishenganga and Ratle Hydroelectric Projects (HEPs), saying they were being conducted by an “illegally constituted Court of Arbitration”.
The External Affairs Ministry further said that the Neutral Expert proceedings are expected to continue for some time. “India is committed to engaging in a manner that supports the resolution of issues in accordance with the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty,” it said.
In July, India refused to cooperate with the Court of Arbitration process to resolve the dispute, saying that it is in contravention of the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty. India’s stance was that it cannot be compelled to participate in parallel proceedings.
“India’s consistent and principled position has been that the constitution of the so-called Court of Arbitration is in contravention of the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty. India cannot be compelled to recognize or participate in illegal and parallel proceedings not envisaged by the Treaty,” said the MEA at the time.
India and Pakistan are currently locked in a dispute over the construction of Kishenganga and Ratle HEPs at the Indus River, as Islamabad claimed that these projects have affected water flows in the country.
(with agency input)