"I realise that some of my criticisms may be mistaken; but to refuse to criticize judgements for fear of being mistaken is to abandon criticism altogether... If any of my criticisms are found to be correct, the cause is served; and if any are found to be incorrect the very process of finding out my mistakes must lead to the discovery of the right reasons, or better reasons than I have been able to give, and the cause is served just as well."

-Mr. HM Seervai, Preface to the 1st ed., Constitutional Law of India.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Kishenganga Award: Analysis: Part I

Over the past several months, we have been following the Kishenganga Arbitration between India and Pakistan in this blog (access the label from here). In the last two posts (here and here), we had noted that the Court of Award had passed a partial award in India's favour and had summarised the decision of the court. We had noted the arguments of both parties in two posts (here and here). In this series of posts, we would be discussing in detail the arbitral award. This post specifically deals with certain preliminary aspects of the Award. Summary of the Award on these aspects are as below:

Arguments of Parties on Issues Pertaining to Sovereignty of Jammu & Kashmir:
  • A perusal of the negotiating history of the Indus Water Treaty (Treaty) would show that India and Pakistan exectuted it in the midst of territorial disputes.
  • Hence, the Treaty takes this fact into cognizance and clarifies that each party's respective rights or claims would not be affected by the Treaty. Article XI(1) reads:
"Article XI: General Provisions

(1) It is expressly understood that
(a) this Treaty governs the rights and obligations of each Party in relation to the other with respect only to the use of the waters of the Rivers and matters incidental thereto; and
(b) nothing contained in this Treaty, and nothing arising out of the execution thereof, shall be construed as constituting a recognition or waiver (whether tacit, by implication or otherwise) of any rights or claims whatsoever of either of the Parties other than those rights or claims which are expressly recognized or waived in this Treaty.
Each of the Parties agrees that it will not invoke this Treaty, anything contained therein, or anything arising out of the execution thereof, in support of any of its own rights or claims whatsoever or in disputing any of the rights or claims whatsoever of the other Party, other than those rights or claims which are expressly recognized or waived in this Treaty
  • The Treaty does not determine the territorial rights of the parties over the Indus river. It only records the agreement of the parties on the use of the waters of the Indus River Basin.
  • In consonance with the Treaty objectives, this Partial Award would also not affect or deal with the territotorial rights or claims of either party. As regards the issue as to the extension of right to use the rivers that flow in the "disputed territory", considering the above objectives of the Treaty the question is not addressed by the Treaty.
  • In resolving the disputes between the parties, the text of the Treaty, read in the context and from the perspective of the Treaty's object and purpose, are critical in resolving the dispute.
  • From this perspective, it is clear that the Treaty applies to the entire Indus River Basin and not merely to the rivers that flow through each party's territories. Further, if the Treaty was to given such a restricted interpretation, its object of providing a comprehensive solution to the problem of allocation waters in the Basin would not be fulfilled.
  • Hence, the Treaty extends to the use of the waters of the Basin even in the "disputed" territories.
 More on other aspects of the Award in the next post on this topic.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Kishenganga Award: A Summary

In the last post, we had stated that the Court of Arbitration has held the Kishenganga Hydroelectric Project (KHEP), a project under construction by India is not violative of the Indus Water Treaty, 1960 between India and Pakistan. The website of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) has come up with a six page press release and has also published the 250 odd paged Partial Award by the Tribunal.

We will come up with a detailed analysis of the award subsequently. The Award can be summarised in the following points (See the PCA press release):
  • The planned diversion of waters from Kishenganga river for generation of hydroelectricity constitutes a Run-of-River plant and is not prohibited nor does it violate the Indus Water Treaty.
  • The planned diversion of the water comes within the ambit of "necessary" under the Treaty (see the post on India's arguments)
  • The Treaty provides that "the then existing" agricultural or hydroelectric use of Pakistan must be taken into consideration when India attempts to do an inter-tribunal transfer. The phrase "the then existing" refers to the period when there is a firm intent to proceed with the project. In the current case, the firm intent as regards KHEP was 2004-2006 while for NJHEP of Pakistan, the critical period was 2007-2008. Hence India's right to divert the waters of Kishenganga was protected by the Treaty.  
  • Nevertheless the right is not absolute. India is obligated under the said treaty to maintain a minimum water flow at a rate to be determined in the Final Award to be rendered by the Tribunal subsequently.
  • The Treaty does not permit India to reduce the water in the reservoid below the "Dead Storage Level" under the Treaty. Hence, India has to employ some other method of sediment management in the reservoir. However, this will not affect the employment of draw-down flushing in reservoirs Run-of-River plants already in operation or under construction and not objected to by Pakistan.
  • Data is required on the impact of a range of minimum flows at KHEP dam on (a) power generation at KHEP, (b) environmental concerns arising from the dam site at Gurez to the Line of Control, (c) power generation at NJHEP, (d) agricultural uses of water downstream the Line of Control to Nauseri, and environmental concerns  downstream the Line of Control to Nauseri. On receipt of data and analysis. the Final Award would be published by the end of 2013.

India Wins the Kishenganga Arbitration

In our previous post, we had informed that the Award in the Kishenganga arbitration between India and Pakistan was to be passed on 18 February. It appears that the said award has been passed by the Court of Arbitration in the presence of the ambassadors of India and Pakistan- Bhaswati Mukherjee and Fauzia Mazhar Sana respectively at The Hague.News reports suggest that India has won the Kishenganga arbitration although the details of the award are yet to be known. Access the news reports from here, here and here.

The major points of the Award appear to be the following:
  • Construction of the Kishenganga Hydroelectric Project (KHEP) does not violate the Indus Water Treaty 1960
  • Adoption of draw-down flushing technique (see here for an explanation of this technique) for sediment management in the KHEP will violate the Indus Water Treaty
More on the Award as and when we get to know further details. Previous posts on the arbitration can be accessed from this label.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Kishanganga Arbitration: Award to be Passed

In the last two posts in this blog (here and here), we had blogged about the hearing on merits in the Kishanganga Arbitration between India and Pakistan under the Indus Water Treaty. According to this news report in the Hindu, the Court of Arbitration is expected to pass the arbitral award on the 18th of this month. We will keep a close watch on the developments and inform the readers.  

Friday, February 1, 2013

Part II: Kishanganga Dispute: India v. Pakistan: Hearing on Merits

In the previous post in this blog, we had noted that the final arguments in the Kishanganga Dispute between India and Pakistan were concluded and the Award was expected any time soon. We had also dealt with the arguments of Pakistan in the matter. India was represented by Mr. Dhruv Vijay Singh (Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Water Resources) and Mr. Fali S. Nariman and Pakistan was represented by Mr. Kamal Majidulla (Special Assistant to the Prime Minister for Water Resources and Agriculture) and Professor James Crawford. Pakistan produced Mr. Syed Muhammad Mehr Ali Shah as expert regarding the potential hydrological impact of the KHEP on the reach of the Kishenganga/Neelum River downstream as well as the anticipated impact of the KHEP on the production of electricity by the Neelum-Jhelum Hydro-Electric Project (the “N-JHEP”), Dr. Jackie King and Mr. Vaqar Zakaria with respect to the expected environmental impact downstream of the KHEP and Dr. Gregory Morris on sediment management in relation to hydroelectric plants, including the KHEP. India presented its experts,  Mr. Jesper Goodley Dannisøe and Dr. Niels Jepsen for testifying on the potential environmental impact of the KHEP and  Dr. K.G. Rangaraju testified on the sediment control in response to Dr. Morris’ views. In this post, we summarize the arguments of India in the arbitration.
    • The Treaty must be interpreted from the perspective of its object and purpose as disclosed by the Treaty's Preamble. As per the Preamble, it is the parties' desire in signing the Treaty to “attain the most complete and satisfactory utilisation of the waters of the Indus system of rivers.” This objective would be met if India is allowed to go ahead with the KHEP while Pakistan is also benefitted to use the Kishanganga river for hydroelectricity generation.
    • While Article III of the Treaty obligates India to "let flow" and "not permit any interference with" the Western Rivers (the Indus, the Chenab, the Jhelum and their tributaries, including the Kishenganga/Neelum), Article III(2) of the Treaty creates an exception: India could use the Western River waters for certain purposes such as for hydroelectic generation but through"run-of-river" projects. KHEP falls within this exception.
    • India has a right to transfer water between the tributaries of Jhelum for hydroelectric generation as prior to inking the Treaty, India had planned to construct a hydroelectric project similar to at the location of the KHEP. India would not have inked the Treaty had it precluded such a project.
    •  Para 15(iii) of Annexure D to the Treaty gives the right to India to judge whether it is necessary to divert the waters of Kishanganga.  It is necessary to do so in order to generate hydroelectricity. The said provision reads:
    "Provided however that :
    (iii) where a Plant is located on a Tributary of The Jhelum on which Pakistan has any Agricultural use or hydro-electric use, the water released below the Plant may be delivered, if necessary, into another Tributary but only to the extent that the then existing Agricultural Use or hydro-electric use by Pakistan on the former Tributary would not be adversely affected.
    • Further Para 15(iii) of Annexure D protects Pakistan's "then existing" downstream agricultural and hydroelectric use by Pakistan. India is to take into account the downstream uses only up to a cut-off point, i.e., up to design finalisation. An interpretation which provides for India to continuously adjust its design would negate India's right to use the river waters in the Jhelum and result in wastage of vast amounts of resources.
    • From 1989, when Pakistan was first informed of the KHEP till 2006 when the final design was notified to Pakistan, India had expressed its willingness to take into account the downstream uses of Pakistan and had repeatedly sought data but Pakistan failed to substantiate its uses and relied solely on verbal assurances that the project was "in hand" and "under construction" without demonstrating any commitment to realisation. Also, the agricultural uses of residents of Neelum valley are not dependent on the waters of Kishanganga/ Neelum.
    • Even if the Neelum-Jhelum Hydroelectric Project of Pakistan was a "then-existing" use, it would not be affected by the KHEP as the latter will divert less than 1% of the total volume of waters of the Western rivers and during the high flow season, N-JHEP will receive volume of water in excess of its maximum discharge capacity and during lean season N-JHEP could be operated through several tributaries flowing into Kishanganga/ neelum between KHEP and N-JHEP sites. During the lean season, N-JHEP would receive more water than the KHEP itself. Any adverse effect on the generation of N-JHEP would be mitigated by the releease of water during lean season from the Dudhnial storage work that Pakistan intends to construct between KHEP and N-JHEP.  In fact, due to the diversion of Kishanganga, Pakistan would benefit due to increased flow and consequent increased power generation in the Kohala HEP. Thus, any adverse effect on the N-JHEP would be offset by benefit in the Kohala HEP.
    • Neither the provisions of the  Treaty nor Article IV(6) theren, quoted below provided basis for reading in any international environmental obligation into the Treaty. Hence, the alleged breach of such an obligation is not a proper subject matter for determination by the Tribunal: "Each Party will use its best endeavours to maintain the natural channels of the Rivers, as on the Effective Date, in such condition as will avoid, as far as practicable, any obstruction to the flow in these channels likely to cause material damage to the other Party."
    • In any case, India complied with Article IV(6) of the Treaty and the domestic environmental laws and customary international environmental laws as regards the project and international engineering standards applicable to the design and operation of hydroelectric projects. In fact, in 2000 a comprehensive environmental impact assessment showed that KHEP will not have any signficant adverse effect on the Kishanganga/ Neelum river. A minimum “environmental flow” of at least 3.9 m3/s would be released at all times below the KHEP dam
    • As regards the use of draw-down flushing technique for sediment managment (see the previous post on the said technique), the said dispute is not arbitrable as the matter is to be referred to a neutral expert appointed as per the Treaty. In fact, the Neutral Expert in Baghlihar Dam Dispute between India and Pakistan had confirmed that the said technique was allowed under the Treaty (Note: see the executive summary (pdf) of the decision of the Neutral Expert, especially last para in page 12 ).
    • In view of the following facts (a) draw-down flushing is essential for the sustainability of the KHEP and can be done by effectively lowering the level below the Dead Storage Level (b)  it would take a very short period of time to re-fill the reservoir after lowering of water level, (c) the relatively small reservoir capacity of KHEP,  the KHEP would have minimal effect on Pakistan.
    Both parties completed their closing arguments on 31 August 2012. The Press Release by the Permanent Court of Arbitration on the arguments can be accessed from here (pdf).