Baglihar: Third Umpire’s Way Out

The World Bank appointed Swiss Federal Institute of Technology expert Professor Raymond Lafitte as the neutral expert who heard the two sides over their ‘differences’ on Baglihar and gave his 116-page verdict in February 2007. It was a win-win situation for both the sides. Of the six “Determinations”, he upheld Indian position on three issues and awarded three others to Pakistan.
Islamabad approached the World Bank for neutral arbitration on three issues – questioning the power project’s design as irrational and unrealistic, terming dam pondage to be double than permitted and insisting intake channel to the power house did not fall within treaty specifications.
Lafitte came with six determinations, favouring three each to the two sides. The major recommendation was to raise the power intake by three meters from the level of 818 meters to 821 meters. Other two awards that upheld Pakistan stand include reducing the dam freeboard by 1.5 meters and lowering the pondage of the dam from existing 37.722 million cubic meters (mcms) to 32.56.
“The NE (Neutral Expert) considers that the elevation of the intake stipulated by India is not at the highest level, as required by certain criteria laid down in the treaty,” Lafitte’s final report said. Justifying its ruling that location of the intake structure proposed by India leads to asymmetrical approach conditions. “A different arrangement, with more symmetrical approach conditions, could reduce the required minimum submergence depth,” it adds.
 Professor Raymond Lafitte – after 18 months of his appointment during which he heard the two sides five times and studied the design of around 13000 dams registered with International Commission on Large Dams (ICOLD) – has rejected Pakistan suggestion that the pondage level of the dam should go down to 6.22  mcms from the existing 37.722 mcm. Instead, he has sought its reduction marginally to the level of 32.56 mcms.
 NE upheld the calculations of the flood discharge calculated by India at 16500 cubic meters per second instead of Pakistan’s 14900 cubic meters per second. Besides, he also upheld the requirement of a gated spillway otherwise opposed by Islamabad.
Professor Raymond Lafitte has suggested the IWT needs an update given the evolution in the technologies since 1960 when the two countries signed the agreement.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here