Centre approves Shahpur Kandi dam project

Sahil Rasgotra. Updated: 12/7/2018 11:47:43 AM Front Page

Rs 485 Cr assistance for irrigation component to be provided over 5 years

JAMMU: Confirming the reports of anticipated fast-tracking of the construction, the Union Cabinet on Thursday approved the coveted Shahpur Kandi dam project on the Ravi river in Punjab, 3 months after government of Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab had agreed to resume work which was halted by J&K in 2014.
The Rs 2,793-crore project will help in irrigation of about 37,000 ha of land—majority in Kandi areas in J&K and will produce 206 MW of clean power, even as Jammu and Kashmir will be provided 1,150 cusecs of water under all circumstances, when the project is completed in next three years.

However, the promptness shown by centre comes courtesy flowing of unutilised Indus waters from India’s share to Pakistan, which the Centre wanted to arrest, top sources told The News Now.

“For the project, a central assistance of Rs 485.38 crore -- for irrigation component -- would be provided over five years from 2018-19 to 2022-23,” Centre announced.

The Indus Waters Treaty was signed between India and Pakistan in 1960 for sharing of Indus waters. According to the Treaty, India got the full rights for utilisation of waters of the three eastern rivers -- Ravi, Beas and Satluj.

"Some of the water of the Ravi river at present is going waste through the Madhopur Headworks downstream to Pakistan. Implementation of the project would minimise such wastage of water," a statement from the Union Water Resources Ministry said.

Originally signed by then J&K CM Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah and his contemporary from Punjab Prakash Singh Badal in 1978, the construction work on project started in 1999. However, in 2014 J&K got the work stopped over a dispute between the two states over its design, when Punjab allegedly violated pact components, even as the same was declared a national project in 2009.

On September 8 this year, however, the Governor’s administration had signed an agreement with Punjab government to resume work on the coveted dam project.

It may be mentioned here that the construction of 79.5 kilometer of Ravi canal and 493 kilometer of distribution network in Jammu and Kashmir has already been completed.

This project will immensely benefit the districts of Kathua and Samba, besides catering to some parts of Jammu district.

It will irrigate 32,000 hectares (80,000 acres) of agricultural land in the Kandi areas, upstream and downstream along the Jammu-Pathankot national highway in Samba and Kathua districts.

According to the agreement between two states, Jammu and Kashmir will be provided 1,150 cusecs of water under all circumstances, subject to a ceiling of 0.69 MAF as per the 1979 agreement, he said.

Jammu and Kashmir is entitled to 0.69 MAF of water from the Ravi and it is utilising only 0.215 MAF.

The project is expected to be completed in three years and the water is expected to flow to Jammu and Kashmir by the end of 2020.

Not only this, but the Punjab government will make available to Jammu and Kashmir 20 per cent of the total power generated at the Thein dam at the rate fixed by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission with a ceiling of Rs 3.50 per unit, with prospective effect, as per the agreement.

The agreement also has a safety clause in the shape of "Joint Steering and Supervision" of water supplies during the operation of the dam, which ensures that Jammu and Kashmir is never deprived of its original share of waters and protects its interests in perpetuity.

The Punjab government has submitted a revised cost estimate of Rs 2,793.54 crore and requested the Centre to include the project in the prioritised list of the Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchai Yojana (PMKSY)/Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme (AIBP) projects.

The News Now had reported in its November 25 edition that the Centre was considering fast-tracking three vital projects to arrest the unutilised water of its share under the bilateral Indus Waters Treaty with Pakistan.

After the Uri attack in Kashmir in September 2016, the government had sought to use the Indus Waters Treaty to put pressure on Pakistan. The measures included effectively using India's share of waters that flow into Pakistan. This also included fast-tracking irrigation and hydropower projects by resolving the inter-state disputes.

Besides the Shahpur Kandi dam project, the other two projects include the Rs 5,950 crore worth Ujh Dam project in Kathua, and a second Sutlej-Beas link in Punjab.

These three projects were stuck in red tape and inter-state disputes. But it was then decided to expedite the execution of these projects.

Of the total 168 million acre-feet, India's share of water from the three allotted rivers is 33 million acre-feet, which constitutes nearly 20 per cent.
India uses nearly 93-94 per cent of its share under the Indus Waters Treaty. The rest of the water remains unutilised and goes to Pakistan.

Among these, the Ujh dam is a proposed hydroelectricity and irrigation multipurpose project in the Kathua district of Jammu over the Ravi river with a capacity to generate 196 MW of electricity.

The total water utilisation from this project is 172.8 million cusec metre (mc), but it has the capacity to store 925 mcm of water and the estimated cost of the project is Rs 5,950 crore.

The Jammu and Kashmir government has forwarded the Detailed Project Report (DPR) to the Centre for its appraisal, which is expected to be okayed by the Advisory Committee of the Ministry of Water Resources for clearance.

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