Jammu: Days before its annual Indus Water Commission meeting with Pakistan in Lahore, India has stepped up its efforts of building adequate infrastructure to utilise its legitimate share of waters on eastern rivers (Ravi, Beas and Sutlej) of the Indus system. Two of its states – Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab – on Friday reached an agreement to resume works on ambitious Shahpur Kandi Dam project.
The 55.5-metre high Shahpur Kandi dam, located in Gurdaspur district of Punjab, will help in providing irrigation facility to 5000 hectares of land in Punjab and 32173 hectares in J&K, besides generation of 206 MW power. The construction of Shahpur Kandi project was taken up in May 1999 but later halted in 2014 due to dispute between Punjab and J&K.
The move to resume work will give a boost to the country’s strategy to utilise its entire share of waters under the Indus Water Treaty (IWT).
Though India had decided not to engage with Pakistan through the Indus Water Commission after the Uri terror attack last year, it has recently decided to resume the dialogue through the Commission whose next meeting will be held in Lahore later this month. The Commission is a mechanism to resolve any dispute between the two countries over sharing of waters of the Indus river system under the Indus Water Treaty.
Under the IWT, signed between the two countries in 1960, the waters of eastern rivers are allocated to India. Though India is under obligation to let the waters of the western rivers (Indus, Jhelum and Chenab) flow, it is permitted to construct storage of water on western rivers up to 3.6 million acre feet (MAF) for various purposes, including domestic use. India has, however, not developed any storage facility so far. India has also not tapped its full quota of water for irrigation under the Treaty.
Looking at full exploitation of its rights under the IWT with Pakistan, a high-level inter-ministerial task force had in December last year decided to bring Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir on board for speeding up work on the ground through better co-ordination.
Accordingly, both the states agreed to resume works on Shahpur Kandi Dam project. The agreement to this effect was signed by KS Pannu, irrigation secretary of Punjab and his J&K counterpart Saurabh Bhagat in the presence of Union water resources secretary Amarjit singh here on Friday.
The project will be built with an estimated cost of Rs 2285.81 crore (April, 2008 price level). Though it would be constructed as per agreed design, a model study will concurrently be done to ensure that the mandated share of 1150 cusecs of water is available to J&K, which will be binding on both the States.
The project will continue to be implemented by the government of Punjab. However, there will be a tripartite team headed by member, CWC and consisting of chief engineers of two states to monitor the project as and when required or atleast once in three months to ensure that the construction is completed as per the agreement”, said an official. Besides the Shahpur Kandi dam project, the task force had in December, 2016 also underlined the government’s priority to speed up works on the proposed hydro-power projects on Chenab and its tributary – Sawalkot (1856 MW), Pakal Dul (1000 MW) and Bursar (800 MW) – for execution in a time-bound manner.