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WB clears Baglihar; cut height, India told  
S. Suryamurthy
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, February 12
In a major rebuff to Islamabad, a World Bank-appointed neutral expert today cleared the Baglihar power project over River Chenab in Jammu and Kashmir accepting one of the Pakistan’s objections by asking India to reduce the height of the dam by one and half metre.However, he overruled other technical objections of Pakistan on the dam.The dam’s height was originally proposed to be 144.5 metre.

World Bank expert Richard Lafitte today handed over his final report to Indian and Pakistani diplomats in Bern, Switzerland.

Ms Radhika Lokesh, Charge de Affairs of the Indian embassy in Switzerland, received the report on behalf of the government and forwarded it to New Delhi.

Both countries were awaiting the decision keenly as the issue has been dragging for over two decades and has been affecting the bilateral ties.

Pakistan had in 2005 sought World Bank intervention, which is the third party to the 1960 Indus Water Treaty, alleging that construction of the project violated the accord. India has consistently been rejecting the Pakistan’s charge.

According to the provisions of the treaty, the neutral expert’s decision on all matters will be final and binding.

In energy-deficit Jammu and Kashmir the 450-MW power project will come as a big relief. The complete project is designed to produce 900 MW of power and will bring major relief to the state when it comes to fruition.

Prior to the final meeting with representatives of the two countries on November 7, Mr Lafitte had circulated to India and Pakistan a draft containing his conclusions on the arbitration, which upheld New Delhi’s view on the issue.

The arbitrator was slated to give his final report by the end of last year but had put it off till February this year after Pakistan took strong exception to his circulated draft. Left with no alternative, Islamabad has said that it will abide by the report.

Islamabad (PTI): Pakistan today said a World Bank- appointed neutral expert on the Baglihar issue had accepted three of its proposals, including the one on reducing the height of the dam over the Chenab in Jammu and Kashmir.

Claiming the report by Raymond Lafitte as a “victory” for Pakistan, Power Minister Liaqat Jatoi said Islamabad, however, reserves the right to challenge the expert’s decision to uphold India’s design of the spillway gates (to regulate the flow of water) of the project.

Jatoi said Lafitte “held these (spillway gates) as in conformity with international practice and state of the art.”

“Let me give you good news. The neutral expert in his verdict said the design of the project (by India) is a violation of the (Indus Water) treaty,” Jatoi said.

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