India to boycott WB arbitration on water

India to boycott WB arbitration on water

India will not take part in an arbitration initiated by the World Bank to resolve its dispute with Pakistan over two hydroelectric projects proposed to be built on cross-border rivers.

New Delhi decided against taking part in the process after the World Bank accepted Islamabad’s request to set up a Court of Arbitration under the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty (IWT) to resolve India-Pakistan dispute over the proposed Kishenganga and Ratle hydroelectric projects.

New Delhi had asked the World Bank to first appoint a neutral expert under the IWT itself to resolve the dispute, instead of setting up a Court of Arbitration as sought by Pakistan.

Neutral expert
The World Bank, however, decided to go ahead to appoint a Neutral Expert as well as to set up a Court of Arbitration.

“It was pointed (out) by the Government (of India) to the World Bank that the pursuit of two parallel difference or dispute resolution mechanisms – appointment of a Neutral Expert and establishment of a Court of Arbitration – at the same time would be legally untenable,” Vikas Swarup, official spokesperson of the Ministry of External Affairs in New Delhi, said on Thursday.

“Inexplicably,” he added, “the World Bank has decided to continue to proceed with these two parallel mechanisms simultaneously”.

“India cannot be party to actions which are not in accordance with the Indus Waters Treaty,” said Swarup. “The government will examine further options and take steps accordingly.”

The World Bank brokered the negotiation between India and Pakistan on the IWT, which was finally signed by the two nations in 1960. The IWT provided a legal framework to India and Pakistan for managing the water resources of the cross-border rivers. The World Bank continued to play the role of treaty administrator.

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