Badal hails agreement between Pb, J&K on Shahpur Kandi project

CHANDIGARH, Mar 4: Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal today hailed the agreement reached between the state and Jammu & Kashmir to resolve various pending issues relating to Shahpur Kandi Dam Project, proposed to be built downstream of Ranjit Sagar Dam (Thein Dam) on river Ravi.

Disclosing this here today, a spokesperson of the State Government said that the Secretary level agreement was facilitated by the Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India, which is also co-signatory to the agreement at New Delhi.

Welcoming the development, Badal stated Punjab has always stood for equitable distribution of water resources between the riparian states and looked forward to receive the formal approval of the Jammu & Kashmir Government soon.

The Punjab team was led by Additional Chief Secretary (Revenue & Irrigation) KBS Sidhu, while Secretary, Irrigation J&K Saurabh Bhagat, represented the Government of Jammu & Kashmir.

Negotiations were conducted in the presence of Secretary, Government of India, Ministry of Water Resources, Amarjit Singh while Chief Secretary Jammu & Kashmir BR Sharma and Principal Secretary to Chief Minister, Jammu & Kashmir Bharat Vyas participated through the video conferencing, said an official release.

The spokesperson further said that Shahpur Kandi Dam Project had been envisaged under the 1979 agreement between the then Punjab Chief Minister, Parkash Singh Badal and the Jammu & Kashmir Chief Minister, Sheikh Abdullah.

Following the completion of the Ranjit Sagar Dam, Shahpur Kandi Dam project was declared a National project in the year 2009 and the work commenced on the site in April, 2013.

However, on account of various unresolved issues, the work was halted at the site on the instance of Jammu & Kashmir Government.

The latest agreement essentially reaffirms the 1979 agreement and also approves the crest levels of 398.40 m as agreed between the Chief Engineers of the two States.

Simultaneously, the Central Water and Power Research Station, Government of India at Pune would carry out detailed study to assess the crest level of the head regulators so as to guarantee that the mandated share of the 1150 cusecs of water would be available to the State of Jammu & Kashmir.

While the project would continue to be implemented by the Punjab Irrigation Department, there would be a tripartite monitoring team, headed by a Member of the Central Water Commission, that would meet once in a quarter to ensure that the construction is being carried out in accordance with the agreement.

The Punjab Government agreed to pay the pending land acquisition enhancement claims expeditiously, as soon as they were approved by the Statutory Authorities under the Land Acquisition Act.

As provided in the 1979 agreement, 20 per cent share of the total power being generated by the Thein Dam/Ranjit Sagar Dam would be offered to the Jammu & Kashmir at the mutually agreed rate at Rs 3.50 per unit with immediate effect, subject to the confirmation of the rates by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission.

In order to allay the apprehension of the Jammu & Kashmir state in respect of the validity of the 1979 agreement following the enactment of the Punjab Termination of Water Agreements Act, 2004, it was decided that a fresh agreement shall be signed between the two States, so that there was no doubt in the mind of any party that the Punjab Act of 2004 had effectively invalidated the 1979 agreement.

Punjab reiterated its commitment to construct the balance 2.3 km Ravi Canal and siphon for the Kashmir Canal, coterminous with the construction of the Shahpur Kandi Dam.

All other claims and counter-claims would be resolved under clause 16 of 1979 Agreement, through the arbitration process.

The Secretary level agreement would be subject to ratification by the respective state Governments and the work shall recommence on the site immediately thereafter. (PTI)