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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 February 2007, 05:10 GMT
World Bank rules on Kashmir dam
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The World Bank has given its verdict on a controversial hydro-electric dam project in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Both India and Pakistan have claimed the order as their victory.

The World Bank was called in to adjudicate after Pakistan said the Baglihar Dam would deprive one of its agricultural regions of irrigation.

India says the project on Chenab River is crucial for meeting its power needs. The World Bank appointed an arbitrator in May 2005 to settle the dispute.

Raymond Lafitte, a professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, presented the report to the diplomats from India and Pakistan in the Swiss capital, Bern.

Binding

The report has not been made public, but both India and Pakistan say it backs their stand.

The verdict is binding on both countries.

The report is understood to have over-ruled most of Pakistan's objections to the dam.

Welcoming the report, India's Water Resources Minister Saifuddin Soz said: "India's point of view has been completely upheld. The overall design of the dam remains intact. We are very happy with the report."

But the report is believed to have said India must lower the height of the dam by 1.5m (five feet) - which has been claimed as "a major victory" by Pakistan's Minister for Water and Power, Liaqat Ali Jatoi.

Controversy

"The neutral expert has in his verdict clearly said that the design of the project is in violation of the treaty, so this is good news for Pakistan," Mr Jatoi said.

Power minister in the Indian-administered Kashmir's state government, Rigzin Zora, told the BBC that the World Bank order on reducing the dam height "will not affect the power generation capacity of the project".

Construction on the Baglihar Dam project was started in 2000 and it was due to be completed by June 2006.

The project ran into controversy after Pakistan raised objections to the dam.

Islamabad argued that the dam violated the World Bank-brokered 1960 Indus Water treaty, which divided the rights of water from six rivers between India and Pakistan.

Mr Raymond Lafitte visited the dam site before giving his verdict.




SEE ALSO
Pakistan team views Kashmir dam
25 Jul 05 |  South Asia
Kashmir dam arbitrator named
11 May 05 |  South Asia

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