3 Jammu distts to benefit, water to flow by 2020
Major breakthrough at PMO’s behest: Dr Jitendra
JAMMU, Sept 8: After a long wait of nearly four decades, the Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab Governments, on the intervention of Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), today finally inked an agreement on implementation of Shahpur Kandi dam project, which will turn out to be a boon for Kandi belts of Kathua and Samba districts and parts of Jammu district and give 41 MW of power to J&K in addition to 20 per cent of Thein dam.
“The project will irrigate 80,000 acres of land in Kandi areas of Kathua, Samba and Jammu districts and 95,000 acres of land in Punjab. It will generate 270 MW of power for the neighbouring State. The project will be completed in about three years and water will start flowing to two and half districts of Jammu by the end of 2020,” official sources told the Excelsior.
The project will be monitored by the officials of Central Water Commission (CWC), J&K and Punjab Governments, they said.
Reacting to the historic agreement, Punjab Chief Minister, Capt Amarinder Singh tweeted: “happy to share that Governments of Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir have today signed an agreement on Shahpur Kandi project. A historic day for the people of both States. Project will be completed in three years and generate 207 MW power and irrigate 95,000 acres of land of our farmers”.
Union Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Dr Jitendra Singh, who had taken the initiative for agreement on Shahpur Kandi project and was vigorously pursuing the project during last three years, told the Excelsior that it was a historic day for the people of Kandi belt of Kathua and Samba districts and parts of Jammu, which will no longer remain the Kandi belt as water will start flowing within the next two years.
“For the last four decades, the previous Governments in J&K didn’t pursue the project for variety of reasons, known to them. On the intervention of PMO, Nipender Mishra, Principal Secretary to Prime Minister Narendra Modi brought the representatives of J&K and Punjab Governments and Central Water Commission on one table. Finally, the pro-active role played by Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam in the Governor’s rule, the agreement was clicked today,” Dr Jitendra Singh said, adding the project will immensely benefit the people of Kathua, Samba and Jammu in terms or irrigation water and rest of the State with additional power.
“A great breakthrough. This project was held up for almost four decades for a variety of reasons. Thanks to the kind intervention by Narendra Modi Government for breaking the deadlock. Congrats Governor regime and CS Subrahmanyam for accomplishing the task,” Dr Jitendra Singh tweeted.
The agreement was signed between J&K Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam and his Punjab counterpart Karan Avtar Singh in the presence of Governor Satya Pal Malik and Minister for Water Resources, Punjab Government, Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria.
The previous Governments had insisted on securing compensation from Punjab Government running into hundreds of crores, which the neighbouring State had refused. This led to deadlock between the two States, leading into delay in the agreement till the Prime Minister’s Office intervened and made all three parties to sit together and reach the agreement,” sources said.
The ambitious Shahpur Kandi Dam project over river Ravi is a major irrigation project, which will benefit both Jammu & Kashmir and Punjab. J&K is entitled to 0.69 MAF of water from river Ravi of which only 0.215 MAF is being utilized by the State.
While the construction of 79.5 kilometers Ravi canal and 493 kilometers of distribution network in J&K has been completed, the lack of progress on Shahpur Kandi dam project and some disputes relating to the Thein dam, had led to non-utilization of the waters of river Ravi to which J&K was entitled to.
“With the signing of today’s noteworthy agreement, the project will immensely benefit the districts of Kathua and Samba besides catering to some parts of Jammu district. It will irrigate 32,000 hectares of agricultural land (80,000 acres) in Kandi areas, upstream and downstream along the Jammu-Pathankot National Highway in Samba and Kathua districts. This will ensure the prosperity of the farmers of these areas and will lead to overall development of the region,” sources said.
As per the agreement, J&K can get 41 MW of power from this project, in addition to 20 per cent power of Thein Dam. This Project will be completed by the Government of Punjab in three years and the water is expected to flow to J&K by the end of 2020.
Jammu & Kashmir, sources disclosed, will be provided with full quantity of 1150 cusecs of water under all circumstances subject to a ceiling of 0.69 MAF water, which is entitled as per the 1979 Agreement.
“The project will continue to be implemented by the Government of Punjab. However, there will be a tripartite team headed by Member of Central Water Commission and consisting of Chief Engineers of two States to monitor the project as and when required. They will meet at least once in three months to ensure that the construction goes on as per the Agreement.
The balance costs on account of compensation (approximately Rs 115 crore) for land acquisition in respect of Thein Dam, as per the Agreement, will be paid by the Government of Punjab immediately, as per the orders of the relevant statutory authorities under the Land Acquisition Act.
Sources said jobs to the land oustees will be given by the Government of Punjab as per the agreed Rehabilitation & Reconstruction Policy of both the State Governments. The agreement stated that employment to remaining 861 displaced families will be provided under this proviso.
“The Government of Punjab will reiterate its commitment to construct remaining 2.3 kilometers Ravi canal and siphon for the J&K canal con-terminus with the construction of Shahpur Kandi dam. Accordingly, the Government of Punjab shall fully fund the construction of 2.3 km of Ravi canal and siphon for J&K canal,” sources said.
They added that the Government of Punjab will make available to 20% in the total power generated at the Thein Dam to Jammu and Kashmir at the rate (busbar rate) fixed by CERC with a ceiling of Rs 3.50 per unit, with prospective effect.
All claims and counter-claims of both States, on account of delayed implementation, will be settled through arbitration as per 1979 Agreement.
As per the agreement, the Government of Jammu and Kashmir will have the right of first refusal in respect of its entitled share of 20 per cent power from Shahpur Kandi Dam at the SERC rates.
“The water supplies to both States of Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir, in the operation stage, will be under the Joint Steering and Supervision of a Committee of the representatives consisting of CWC and the Governments of Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir,” the agreement said.
Pertinently, the most critical element which has been introduced now and which was not there either in the MoU of 2017 or the Cabinet Decision of 2017 is the introduction of “Joint Steering and Supervision” of water supplies during the operation of the dam. This is the safety clause which will ensure that the Jammu and Kashmir is never deprived of its original share of waters and protects its interests in perpetuity.
Advisors to Governor, B B Vyas and Khurshid Ahmad Ganai, Secretary, PHE, Irrigation & Flood Control, Farooq Ahmad Shah and Indus Commissioner, Ministry of Water Resources, Government of India, P K Saxena were also present during signing of the agreement.