Amid rising hostility between India and Pakistan following September Uri attack in Kashmir and ensuing surgical strikes, Pakistan has asked the World Bank to arbitrate in its Kishanganga hydel dispute with India saying it will impact the flow of water into the country.
It has asked the international lender to appoint a neutral expert to settle the dispute, Indian news agency PTI reported.
The project aims to divert water from India's Kishanganga River to its power plant in the Jhelum river basin in northern Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir.
Pakistan has objected to the design of the hydro-electric project saying it violates the parameters of the Indus Water Treaty between the two countries, PTI reported quoting sources.
India, however, asserts that the project design is "well within parameters" of the treaty and has urged the World Bank to appoint a neutral expert with technical expertise since in its opinion an engineer would be able to understand the issue better than a legal expert, a sources told PTI, adding that both India and Pakistan presented their facts separately to the World Bank on September 27 in Washington.
"They (Pakistan) have objected to the design of the project. Under the treaty, there are design criteria which say the design of the project should be like this. We firmly believe that our design is well within the parameters laid down in the treaty. But they think otherwise. They believe India's design of the project will affect flow of the river to Pakistan.
Pakistan has requested the World Bank to set up a Court of Arbitration. India demands that the matter be looked into by a neutral expert as it is a technical matter. The treaty says the same," the source said.
He also told PTI that India would be able to continue its work on project which is estimated to generate 360 MW electricity.
"Unlike the popular perception, nowhere in the treaty is it written that the work has to be stopped when the dispute resolution process is going on. The work can go on," the source clarified.
The sources also claimed that the Washington meeting had nothing do with India's surgical strikes was scheduled well before the terrorist attack in Uri.
Pakistan, a lower riparian state, had first objected to the project in 2010 and approached the International Court of Arbitration. It had claimed that the project would affect the flow of Kishanganga, known as Neelum in Kashmir, "adversely," and would also impact the power generation capacity of its Neelum-Jhelum hydel plant, located downstream of Kishanganga. Work on both the projects began in 2007.
The matter was settled in favour of India in 2013.