JAMMU, Jan 8: In a major setback to Pakistan, work on two major power projects in Jammu and Kashmir including 1856 mw Sawlakote hydro-electric power project, which was hanging fire for last about 57 years and 930 MW Kirthai-II hydro-electric power project at estimated costs of Rs 22,000 crores and Rs 5500 crores respectively, was set to begin shortly with Central Electricity Authority (CEA), Government of India, giving its nod to construction of both the projects.
The clearance to two major power projects, which will be constructed over river Chenab in Ramban and Doda districts, comes close on the heels of the Central Government’s warning that it could review Indus Water Treaty (IWT) with Pakistan. Chenab is among the three rivers, whose water is shared by India with Pakistan in view of the IWT.
After Uri attack, India had announced series of measures to take Pakistan to task, which, among others, included review of the IWT to block flow of water of three rivers-Chenab, Jhelum and Indus from Jammu and Kashmir to Pakistan.
Official sources told the Excelsior that the CEA has fixed 10 year term for construction of Sawlakote power project over river Chenab downstream of Ramban town and six and half years term for completion of Kirthai-II project (also over river Chenab) at village Kidur in Doda district.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests has also cleared the projects from environmental aspects.
Sources said the power projects were aimed at giving boost to electricity generation in Jammu and Kashmir and make the State self-sufficient in power. Presently, the State had to purchase power worth about Rs 4000 crores every year causing huge financial burden on the exchequer.
The Government would now negotiate with Sawlakote consortium including Ozaltn (Turkey) and Spas (Germany) for construction of Sawlakote project.
Sawlakote project was initially conceived as early as 1960 but it took 24 years to prepare its Detailed Project Report (DPR). While the DPRs were prepared by the NHPC, the project was later returned to Jammu and Kashmir Government for construction though Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation (JKSPDC).
The 1856 MW Sawlakote hydro-electric project is a run-of-river scheme on river Chenab proposed downstream of Ramban town to harness the hydel potential available between existing 900MW BHEP and 690 MW Salal project. The project is envisaged to generate about 8000 Million units of power annually, sources said.
It was in 2001 that an agreement was signed with M/s NCC International of Norway and Hochtief of Germany for an installed capacity of 600MW for construction of Sawlakote project. Subsequently, it was decided to implement both the phases concurrently.
In between the structure of the consortium also changed and a new consortium of M/s SPAS of Norway, Ozaltin of Turkey and HCC of India, came into being. The project was under appraisal with CEA from 2003 to 2006. Implementation of the project could not proceed further due to litigation from December 2006 to February 2010.
“In terms of Government order, the cost shall now be negotiated with the Consortium to start on ground execution of the project.
Sources said the Lenders have expressed willingness to provide loan for the project to the extent of 80 per cent of the project cost. Some of the lending institutions have also policy of partially funding the equity component of the project.
The earlier DPR of Kirthai-II was prepared in July 2010 for an installed capacity of 990 MW. The revised DPR on the instructions of Union Ministry of Environment and Forests was prepared for 930 MW capacity.
“The revised DPR of the project envisaged construction of 121 meters high concrete gravity dam across Chenab (165 meters from deepest foundation level) at Kidur in Doda district to generate 930 MW of hydropower. An underground power house is proposed at Lidrari, which is nearly 8 kilometers downstream of dam site with an auxiliary dame toe power house of 90 MW,” sources said, adding that water from the dam site will be diverted to power house through head race tunnel.
“As Kirthai power project is located on river Chenab, it didn’t warrant any interstate issue. However, the river Chenab falls under the purview of Indus Water Treaty 196- but it was planned and designed as per the treaty,” sources added.