Pakistan’s institutional lapse helps India complete water projects
ISLAMABAD: Having been officially informed about India’s intentions to avail itself of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) benefits from Nimoo-Bazgo and Chutak Hydroelectric Power Projects, Pakistan has decided not to move the international legal system because a committee to investigate an institutional lapse stands dissolved.
An inquiry conducted by Wapda secretary Mohammad Imtiaz Tajwar has found that the Indian commissioner of Indus waters (ICIW) had informed his Pakistani counterpart that “India will be availing CDM benefits from Nimoo-Bazgo project”.
The decision not to challenge in the international court of arbitration a verdict of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) to grant carbon credits to India on a controversial hydropower project without mandatory clearance of its trans-boundary environmental impact assessment follows completion of the two projects a few weeks ago by India without any fanfare to avoid media attention.
“The two projects (Nimoo-Bazgo and Chutak) are complete, producing electricity and contributing to the Indian energy system,” a source confirmed to Dawn requesting anonymity because of his official position.
The decision not to go ahead with the international arbitration was also based on a premise that the projects had became a fait accompli and any court or arbitrator would unlikely to decide against an engineering project that has been completed and built for public interest.
The source said that while the Pakistan commissioner of Indus waters (PCIW) had come under too much focus, the government agencies, ministries and a couple of inquiry committees did not examine the negligence or connivance of former secretaries of water and power, environment and foreign affairs who did not take steps to stop India from completing the projects without trans-boundary impact assessment.
The inquiry report said the information about the Nimoo-Bazgo project had been received in 2002. India was asked through letters in 2002-2004 which suggested that the “PCIW was in knowledge of the issue and could have approached the authorities to approach court of arbitration or neutral experts at that stage. However, that initiative was not availed and the opportunity was missed”.
It said the intelligence agencies had been providing sufficient information about the Nimoo-Bazgo project but proper objections were not raised and opportunities to approach international courts should have been utilised between 2002 and 2005. On the other hand, it was continuously reported in the media until 2010 but the “PCIW never asked Indian commissioner regarding the awaited reply from Indian side or raising the project or raising the issue of carbon credit benefits which were disputed aspects in all aspects”.The inquiry report said a few years were lost during the course of deliberations between the ministries of law and justice, foreign affairs, water and power and the prime minister’s secretariat to take up the issue at the international level.
Officials said another inquiry committee had stood dissolved following retirement of its head a few months ago and his replacement had not yet been made while other members of the committee had been transferred.
Wapda secretary Mohammad Imtiaz Tajwar, who was appointed an inquiry officer by the ministry of water and power, confirmed a Dawn report of July 2010 that India had secured carbon credits for the controversial 45-MW Nimoo-Bazgo hydropower project from the UNFCCC without mandatory clearance of its impact assessment from Pakistan.
India applied for carbon credits for the project which was a “long-term process and must have spread over 4-5 years”, the inquiry officer wrote. “It is still not established how India was able to get carbon credit benefits for the Nimoo-Bazgo project which is located on trans-boundary water and for which ratification of the parties concerned should have been procured beforehand by it under clause 37(b) of UNFCCC. Although it is too difficult to get carbon credits on a trans-boundary project such as Nimoo-Bazgo, due to lack of contest by PCIW, India was able to get the credits on the project,” he said.
In December 2010, the ministry of foreign affairs said there were enough credible ground to refer the project to a neutral expert or the court of arbitration, but it was obvious that the project was at the stage of fait accompli, not due to India’s design but because of carelessness of the Pakistan side and it was difficult now to get a favourable outcome from arbitration. It remained, however, unclear why the ministries of law and foreign affairs and other related institutions failed to know about the Indian success at the UNFCCC during the carbon credit approval process of four to five years.