NEW DELHI – Indian officials have filed an official protest against Pakistan’s decision to build a dam in the disputed region of Kashmir, saying the reservoir would inundate large tracts of land on the Indian side, a statement said on Wednesday.
“The Government of India conveyed through diplomatic channels today to the Government of Pakistan, its protest against the proposed construction of Bhasha dam,” said a statement by the Indian External Affairs Ministry.
Pakistan plans to start building the dam this year at cost of 3.6 billion rupees (US$60 million). It will have the capacity to produce 3,360 megawatts of power.
The statement said the dam site “is an integral part of India by virtue of its (Kashmir’s) accession to it in 1947.”
“The reservoir of this dam, according to media reports, will inundate large parts of land which falls in the northern part of the state of Jammu and Kashmir,” it said.
The Indian protest came at a time when the World Bank was arbitrating in a dispute between the two countries over the height of another dam being built by India in its portion of Kashmir.
Raymond Lafitte, who was appointed by the World Bank in May last year as negotiator in the dispute, visited the construction site in the Indian portion of Kashmir in October to study its design. He has yet to issue a decision.
Pakistan claims the planned 900-megawatt Baglihar Dam on the River Chenab in India’s Jammu-Kashmir state would block the flow of water from the river to its main agricultural province, Punjab, and has demanded that India halt its construction.
India and Pakistan have fought two wars over control of Kashmir since they won independence from Britain in 1947. The longtime rivals started talks in 2004 to settle the decades-old dispute, but made little headway.