The Special Task Force constituted by the Union Government has recommended expediting work on the construction of two more power projects in Kishtwar district, both on River Chenab. The Centre has assured the State Government that sharing the cost of the projects would not be a hindrance. This will infuse hope among the people of the State that the chronic power deficit will be overcome at the end of the day with the new power projects becoming fully functional.
J&K buys 12,000 MW of power a year to meet its requirements. Right now the State is tapping only 1/8 of the power generation potential of the river under the Indus Water Treaty. That means an opportunity loss of Rs 40,000 crore a year. India has decided to change this scenario and make the State self sufficient in terms of power generation and power supply.
Central Electricity Authority (CEA), an agency of the Government of India has cleared two projects, namely Sawlakote Hydro-Electric Power project over river Chenab in Ramban district and Kirthai-II, also on Chenab. Sawlakote will have the capacity to generate 1800 MW and Kirthai-II will generate 930 MW. Apart from these, Central Government is mulling for two more hydroelectric power generating units. One is 1000 MW Pakal Dul and the other is 800 MW Bursar Hydro-Electric Power Project, both of which would be constructed over river Chenab in Kishtwar district of Jammu region. Actually, India wants to make the full use of the waters of three rivers in Northern India since the Indus Water Treaty signed by India and Pakistan respectively, and endorsed by the World Bank, gives the rights to India to use their waters fully. Seemingly, India’s plans of utilizing fully the waters of Chenab as well as other two rivers, namely the Jhelum and the Indus is a reflection of the announcement made by the Prime Minister during his address to the nation from the ramparts of Red Fort on Independence Day last. He had said that India would seriously consider why not to fully utilize the waters of the three rivers that are allotted to India under the clauses of the Indus Water Treaty Award. We think that while reflecting on India’s decision of setting up new hydroelectric power generating units on the waters of three rivers that have been allotted to her by the agreement of IWT, there is no need to bring in Pakistan and to write profusely on her intentions in regard to India utilizing water resources for generating much needed electricity. As long as we are convinced that we are not violating the clauses of Indus Water Treaty, we need not create unnecessary panic about how Pakistan will react to it.
The crux of the matter is that the Centre is fully aware of the fact that J&K water resources have the capacity of producing nearly 20,000 MW of electricity and we have harnessed hardly 1/8th of this capacity. This means that we are allowing our water to be used by Pakistan while we suffer huge loss by not utilizing it for our own use. What were the reasons that we could not utilize the water till date is a different story and need not be raked up now? If the Union Government has found the four proposed power generating units viable from all respects and is confident of funding them, it is the right time to go ahead with the work of building these power generating units. We have always said that the key to development of the State and also the key to changing the mindset and life style of the people of the State lies in providing the required quantum of electric power without interruption and without enormous fluctuation. This is the fundamental requirement if industrialization is the goal of the State. Road/rail connectivity and sufficient uninterrupted power supply are two main components of the prosperity of our State. We appreciate the vision and decisive policy of Modi Government in responding to these two priority needs of the State. The day when entire energy requirement of the State is met through indigenous sources, we will celebrate it as the day of deliverance from poverty, backwardness and deprivation. J&K is poised for a big march ahead towards prosperity and era of plenty. The power projects under contemplation will change the economic scenario of entire Chenab Valley also which has suffered negligence for too long a time. All that ordinary people of the State want to say is that they welcome the initiative of the Union Government in prioritizing power generation and supply in the State and thus raising great hopes of prosperity among the people particularly the backward and neglected segments in Kishtwar, Doda and Ramban districts of the State.