ECC approves Rs153m grant for payment court fee of dispute with India

Committee also approves execution of settlement agreement with Hotel Union and New York city govt in Roosevelt Hotel case

ISLAMABAD: The Economic Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Cabinet has approved Rs 153 million in a Technical Supplementary Grant (TSG), in favour of the Ministry of Water Resources. This amount will be used for the payment of court case fee for the settlement of dispute with India over the Indus Waters Treaty.

Federal Minister for Finance and Revenue Senator Mohammad Ishaq Dar chaired the meeting of the ECC of the Cabinet on Wednesday.

The Indus Waters Treaty 1960 provides a mechanism for sharing of waters of the Indus System of rivers between India and Pakistan. The Treaty gives India rights over the waters of the three Eastern Rivers (Ravi, Chenab and Beas) and to Pakistan rights over the western rivers (Indus, Jehlum, and Chenab). It also allows India to use the waters of the western rivers for irrigation of a specified area and also for non-consumptive uses like navigation, drinking and power generation but such uses are subject to limitations on design, construction and operation.

Pakistan and India disagree on the interpretation of certain provisions of the Treaty, governing the design of running river hydroelectric plants. In this regard there exists an ongoing dispute pertaining to two indian hydroelectric plants namely Kishenganga and Ratle in Jhelum and Chenab basins, respectively.

Both plants violate various design parameters provided in annexure D of the treaty. These parameters relate to pondage, intake, sediment outlets, spillway and freeboard. 

As per provisions of the treaty for settlement of dispute, formal proceedings of the court of Arbitration (CoA) parallel to the neutral expert under the above stated marter have commenced and the first hearing of the CoA and the NE were held on January 27-28 and February 27, 2023 respectively. Both were held at the peace palace in the Hague, in Netherlands.

The expenditure to be incurred in respect of the case inter-alia includes payment of fee of the CoA, fee of the NE proceedings and fee of Pakistan’s external legal team for the case. This expenditure is being met heartily as it is deemed as “currently invisible” against the available budget of Rs 810 million available with the office of Pakistan Commissioner for Indus Waters (PCIW).

Out of the total budget of Rs821 million under the said head of amount, an amount of Rs 653 million has been utilized, leaving a balance of Rs 167 million. Against the available balance, the external legal team has raised invoices of $1.079 million and GBP 6386 which are pending with the office of PCIW, since April 6, 2023 due to non-availability of funds.

As per the letter of engagement signed with the legal team, the invoices are to be paid within 60 days of their generation. Based on prevailing exchange rates, the PKR equivalent of the required amount becomes around Rs 320 million. An amount of Rs 153 million is therefore additionally required to make payments to the external legal team.

The significance of safeguarding Pakistan’s water rights enshrined in the treaty cannot be overemphasized. The outcome of this matter shall impact the future of water security of Pakistan and any delay in releasing payments may adversely affect the working of the legal team and Pakistan’s position before the neutral expert and the court of arbitration.

Roosevelt Hotel settlement agreement:

In the ECC session, the Ministry of Aviation submitted a summary on Challenges and re-opening of Roosevelt Hotel, New York and briefed the meeting on the outcome of negotiations held by the Committee with the New York City Government and the Hotel Union on reaching an suitable agreement for utilization of the Roosevelt Hotel (1,025 rooms) over a period of three years for Immigrant Housing Business by the New York City Government.

The ECC after detailed discussion approved the execution of a settlement agreement with the Hotel Union and the New York City Government.

The ECC further gave node for withdrawal of pending lawsuits by the Roosevelt Hotel with the Hotel Union and City of New York pursuant to the terms of settlement agreement with the Union.

The ECC further directed the PIAL to engage and share its business plan with the NBP regarding rollover of loan.

ECC also approved Rs. 4 billion (Equivalent to US$ 20 million)  as Rupee cover in favour of the Ministry of Federal Education and Professional Training for the World Bank Programme “Actions to Strengthen performance for inclusive and responsive education”.


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Shahzad Paracha
Shahzad Paracha
The writer is a member of Pakistan Today's Islamabad bureau. He can be reached at [email protected]



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