A recent meeting between India and Pakistan on the technical issues of the 330MW Kishenganga and 850MW Ratle hydroelectric power plants within the framework of the Indus Waters Treaty has concluded with no agreement on the projects, but with the countries reconfirming their commitment to the to the preservation of the Treaty.

The Secretary-level discussions were held on 14-15 September in Washington, DC. The World Bank, which brokered the treaty, said in a statement that while an agreement has not been reached, it will continue to work with both countries to resolve the issues in an amicable manner and in line with the Treaty provisions.

The Bank said it remains committed to act in good faith and with complete impartiality and transparency in fulfilling its responsibilities under the Treaty, while continuing to assist the countries.

The Indus Waters Treaty was signed in 1960 after nine years of negotiations between India and Pakistan with the help of the World Bank, which is also a signatory.

The Treaty sets out a mechanism for cooperation and information exchange between the two countries regarding their use of the rivers, known as the Permanent Indus Commission, which has a commissioner from each country. The Treaty also sets forth distinct procedures to handle issues which may arise: “questions” are handled by the Commission; “differences” are to be resolved by a Neutral Expert; and “disputes” are to be referred to a seven-member arbitral tribunal called the “Court of Arbitration.”  The World Bank’s role in relation to “differences” and “disputes” is limited to the designation of people to fulfill certain roles when requested by either or both of the parties.

India and Pakistan disagree about the construction of the Kishenganga (330 megawatts) and Ratle (850 megawatts) hydroelectric power plants being built by India (the World Bank is not financing either project).  The two countries disagree over whether the technical design features of the two hydroelectric plants contravene the Treaty.