STAFF REPORT IBD: India is trying to navigate its way out of a debate with Pakistan over the construction of Wullar Barrage, also known as the Tulbul Project, while Pakistan wants to take the issue up when foreign ministers of both nations meet in Islamabad next month sources said.

“India is trying to evade the topic of Wullar Barrage which would divert water from River Jhelum so that its construction can begin without intensive deliberations with Pakistan.” a source close to the Pak-India water talks said and added that, however, Pakistan authorities in Foreign Office plan to raise this critical issue at the bilateral talks.

Some media reports quoted Indian officials as saying they prefer to seek international arbitration to resolve the nearly two-decade long dispute.

“Pakistan will also prefer to go to an international court of arbitration if the two sides fail to reach an amicable settlement and India tries to go ahead with the project,” said an official from the Ministry of Water and Power said.

Pakistan maintains the barrage is in violation of the Indus Water Treaty (IWT). “India has the Wullar Lake and does not need additional water storage,” said the 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.

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