ISLAMABAD (Reuters / AFP) – Pakistan has expressed serious concerns over the inauguration of Kishanganga plant in occupied Kashmir by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Modi will inaugurate the hydroelectric power plant in occupied Kashmir, prompting protest from Pakistan that says the project on a river flowing into Pakistan will disrupt water supplies.
The 330 megawatt Kishanganga hydropower station, work on which started in 2009, is one of the projects that India has fast-tracked in the volatile state under Modi amid frosty ties between the nuclear-armed countries.
Pakistan has opposed some of these projects, saying they violate a World Bank-mediated treaty on the sharing of the Indus river and its tributaries upon which 80 percent of its irrigated agriculture depends.
“Pakistan is seriously concerned about the inauguration (of the Kishanganga plant),” its foreign ministry said in a statement on Friday. “Pakistan believes that the inauguration of the project without the resolution of the dispute is tantamount to violation of the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT).”
The Kishanganga project was delayed for several years as Pakistan dragged India to the International Court of Arbitration, which ruled in India’s favor in 2013.
India has said the hydropower projects underway in occupied Kashmir are “run-of-the-river” schemes that use the river’s flow and elevation to generate electricity rather than large reservoirs, and do not contravene the treaty.
Modi’s nationalist party has formed a government in occupied Kashmir for the first time, and the federal interior ministry announced on Wednesday it would suspend all operations in the region during the holy Muslim month of Ramazan.
Modi, who is on a day-long visit to the state, will also flag off the construction of the 14 kilometer Zojila tunnel to provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh cities.
The government said it would be the longest road tunnel in India and Asia’s longest bidirectional tunnel, to be constructed at a cost of $1 billion.
Occupied Kashmir shuts down
Large parts of Indian occupied Kashmir closed down to protest Modi’s visit to the Muslim-majority region. Shops shut and the main streets of the main city, Srinagar, were empty except for police and paramilitary patrols while authorities laid on maximum security for Modi’s one-day visit.
Authorities cut mobile internet services in the region and imposed a curfew in parts of Srinigar.
Hurriyet leaders opposed to Indian rule of Kashmir have called for a strike and a protest march to a city square. Main roads and the square were barricaded by razor wire to stop anyone getting in.
Authorities also ordered schools, colleges and universities shut for the day apprehending student protests. The main venue for the prime minister’s visit to Srinigar, the Dal Lake tourist attraction, was made out of bounds to the public.