Water and Environment Ministry let Pakistan down
By: Zeeshan Javaid
ISLAMABAD: The Water and Power Ministry and the Environment Ministry let Pakistan down over the 45MW controversial Nimo Bazgo hydropower project, constructed in Indian-held Kashmir. Sources privy to the development said that both ministries had started accusing each other and were not ready to take the responsibility for losing the case of the hydropower project.
They also revealed that the decision taken by the federal government not to approach the Permanent Court of Arbitration-International Court of Arbitration (PCA-ICA) was taken because of negligence of high officials of the two ministries. Former Indus Water commissioner Jamaat Ali Shah and former environment secretary Muhammad Naeem Khawaja were also found negligent.
A special committee formed by the former Water and Power minister, Naveed Qamar, had not concluded inquiry so far and remained tight-lipped regarding the inquiry. Documents available with Daily Times revealed that the Military Intelligence (MI) informed the government on June 6, 2005 that the Indian government was planning to construct 45MW Nimo Bazgo hydropower project on western river ‘Sindh’ and project would likely be completed in 2010.
The Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) also informed the authorities concerned on July 25, 2005 that Indian PM Manmohan Singh visited Leh, Kargil and Siachen glacier on June 11, 2005 and laid foundation stone for Nimo Bazgo and Chuttak hydropower plants respectively.
The ISI on September 7, 2005, shared the information about the visit of the Indian premier and informed that the project would be completed by 2008. First letter to Indus Water Indian commissioner Auranga Nathan regarding the controversial Nimo Bazgo hydropower project was sent on November 16, 2002 by Jamat Ali Shah. In the letter the Indian commissioner was requested to provide information about the proposed plan under provisions of the Indus Water Treaty 1960.
As per provisions of the Indus Water Treaty 1960, the Indian commissioner informed his Pakistani counterpart on December 27, 2006 that India would be availing Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) benefits from Nimo Bazgo hydropower project.
The CDM benefit document issued to Indian authorities maintained that India fulfilled all requirements to avail the benefits, including environmental impact report. Water Wing of the Water and Power Ministry and the Pakistani commissioner remained silent until 2009. However, when authorities came to know that after completion of controversial hydropower project, Pakistan would not be able to address its concerns, including the changing in design of the project, the Pakistani commissioner raised the issue, but to no avail.
A senior Environment Ministry official, on condition of anonymity, said the Water and Power Ministry was never consulted in this regard until India completed the project and obtained no objection certificate (NOC)