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Days after Sawlakote, Kirthai, Centre’s push to 2 more projects

Pak in tight spot on IWT

Sanjeev Pargal
JAMMU, Jan 15: In a decision aimed at further cornering Pakistan on Indus Water Treaty, a Special Task Force of the Centre has reportedly directed for expediting work on two more power projects in Kishtwar district of Jammu region, which would together generate electricity of 1800 MW and block supply of water of river Chenab to Pakistan.
The directive comes within a fortnight after the Central Electricity Authority (CEA), Government of India, gave its nod to construction of Sawlakote Hydro-Electric Power project over river Chenab in Ramban district and Kirthai-II, also over Chenab, in Doda district.
Sources told the Excelsior that the Government of India has given its go ahead to expediting work on 1000 MW Pakal Dul and initiating work on 800 MW Bursar Hydro-Electric Power Projects, both of which would be constructed over river Chenab in Kishtwar district of Jammu region.
“The projects would significantly block flow of water of river Chenab to Pakistan. Chenab in Jammu, Jhelum in Kashmir and Indus in Ladakh are the three rivers in Jammu and Kashmir, whose waters India had to share with Pakistan as per the Indus Water Treaty,” sources said.
However, officials maintained that the projects wouldn’t violate the Indus Water Treaty.
While Pakal Dul is joint venture of JKSPDC, NHPC and PTC, work on Bursar is yet to be taken up.
“A direction has gone to the concerned authorities to expedite work on Pakal Dul and start work on Bursar at the earliest,” sources said, adding the Centre has made it clear that its share of spending on both the projects would be no problem,” sources said.
They added that out of 18,600 MW power potential in Jammu and Kashmir, the present utilization was only 3034 MW while work was on over 2526 MW projects. Under consideration projects had potential of 5800 MW while rest 7200 MW was unutilized.
Sources said not only the construction of Pakal Dul and Bursar will block water flow to Pakistan but would also help Jammu and Kashmir immensely as the State would get 49 per cent power from Pakal Dul and 12 per cent from Bursar.
The two projects can potentially generate 1800 MW of energy which will give a huge boost to the power-deficit State. Coupled with it would be generation of 2000 MW by Sawlakote project and 930 MW by Kirthai-II, which were cleared by the Central Electricity Authority only few days back.
The biggest of three is the Sawlakote project in Ramban district on the Chenab river with a 192.5-metre dam and an expected power generation capacity of 1856 MW. The project is being constructed by Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation (JKSPDC).
The Pakal Dul project has an estimated capacity of 1000 MW and is to be constructed on the Marusudar, the main tributary of the Chenab at village Drangdhuran, about 45 kilometers from Kishtwar town. It is being constructed by Chenab Valley Power Projects Limited, a joint venture of JKSPDC, NHPC and Power Trading Corporation (PTC).
The project envisaged a 167-metre high dam and an underground power house near village Dul.
“All clearances have been received for this dam but there was a problem with the first tender submissions and we may go for re-tendering. The approved cost of the project is Rs 8112 crores,” sources said.
The Bursar Hydroelectric Project, with an estimated capacity of 800MW which is to be constructed by the NHPC, is a “storage project” planned in Kishtwar district but is currently under survey and investigation for preparation of a detailed report.
Sources said that the project will allow the regulation of the flow of water and thus benefit itself and all other downstream projects by enhancing their potential.
“The storage provided is intended to be used for additional power generation during lean flow months and releasing regulated flow in the downstream,” they added.
Sources said the estimated cost of the project will be over Rs 8,000 crore.
Sources said that fast-tracking these under-construction dams on the Chenab will reduce Jammu and Kashmir’s energy deficiency.
“J-K buys 12,000 MW a year. Right now the State is tapping only 1/8 of the power generation potential of the river under the Indus Waters Treaty. That means an opportunity loss of Rs 40,000 crore a year,” they said.
Officially, sources, however, maintained that these projects will definitely not affect Pakistan. “These are run-of-the-river projects which are very much provided for in the IWT.”
The Indus Waters Treaty is one of the most liberal water sharing pacts in the world. The agreement covers six rivers – the three eastern rivers of Ravi, Beas, Sutlej and their tributaries and the three western rivers of Indus, Jhelum, Chenab and their tributaries.
Water from the eastern rivers has been allocated to India, and New Delhi is obligated to let 80% water from the western rivers flow to Pakistan. The treaty gives the lower riparian Pakistan more “than four times” the water available to India.

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