India has called off Secretary-level talks with Pakistan on Wullar Barrage without citing any reason, but analysts believe that the main reason behind the decision is tension at Line of Control (LoC) between the two countries. Both countries were scheduled to have Water and Power Secretary level two-day (January 28-29) talks on the dispute of Wullar Barrage, also known as the Tulbul Project, but India intimated a day earlier that Secretary Water Resources Dhruba Bijaya Singh would not be able to reach Islamabad.
An official of the Water and Power Ministry told Business Recorder that it was the third session of dialogue between the two neighbours on this longstanding issue. Pakistan argues that the barrage is in violation of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT). “India has the Wullar Lake and does not need additional water storage,” said an official.
Under the treaty, Pakistan is entitled to water from the three Western rivers – Indus, Jhelum and Chenab. Pakistan maintains the construction of Wullar Barrage will convert the natural lake into a man-made storage with a capacity of 0.324 million acre feet (MAF) and adversely affect the flow of water into the country.
India, on the other hand, maintains certain amendments in the design and structure of the barrage can address Pakistan”s reservations. In the earlier rounds of talks, India said that it had the right to build the barrage under the IWT and that the navigation project would only be used to transport water and not as a storage facility. Pakistan”s Commerce Minister, Makhdoom Amin Fahim, recently cancelled his scheduled visit to India due to the opposition by various groups including farm community to granting most favoured nation status to India.