Shahpur Kandi declared as national project

Constructed by Jammu and Kashmir State jointly with Punjab, Shahpur Kandi dam project has been declared by the Union Cabinet as the national project. The Union Cabinet which met in New Delhi on Dec 6 and was chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi cleared the proposal put up by the Union Minister of Water Resources Nitin Gadkari for declaration of Shahpur Kandi as national project. That in simpler words means that the Central Government would be not only providing whatever assistance was required but also would be monitoring the project as well. Readers may recall that on March 3, 2017, the Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir Governments had inked an agreement for the project involving a cost of Rs. 2286 crore. Expectedly, it was going to generate 341 MW of power. Our State was going to be benefitted in a major way. On completion, the canal was expected to change the fortunes of thousands of farmers in the Kandi belt of Kathua as also of Samba and Jammu districts. We are expecting to get 41 MW of power in addition to additional 20 percent from Thein dam.
The project, otherwise very ambitious, went into the cycle of fits and starts and did not take off as expected despite an agreement being there between the two joint venture holder states. Until six months back, the model of the project even had not been fully finalised. Let us hope by now the areas of disagreement on various issues like the level of the canal to be built from the project are resolved or now since its status has been elevated as a national project, all areas of better suggestions over the points of disagreement shall get established. Since the intervention of the Prime Minister’s office has resulted in the convening of a meeting of the two partner states along with PCWC, a new agreement was entered into between the two states on Sept 8 this year.
It is to be noted that certain avoidable decisions can jeopardize many ambitious projects from getting commissioned in a normal way without any hurdles as the previous Governments had insisted on securing compensation from Punjab Government running into hundreds of crores of Rupees which they had refused but not without resulting in surfacing of the stalemate and causing delays and until the PM’s office did not intervene, an agreement could not be reached at by all the three parties. Water is equally required like the power by this state and we used to get only 0.215 MAF from river Ravi as against the entitlement of 0.69 MAF. Agreed, nearly 80 kilometres Ravi canal and 493 kilometres of the distribution network in the state 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 water of river Ravi which this state was entitled to.
Whatever the case history in the past, let us hope that on account of regular monitoring from the office of the PMO befitting a project of national status, the project will see the brighter side at the end of the tunnel and get started now as scheduled without any problems . What is at stake is 1.5 lakh acres of land in the Kandi area, upstream and downstream along the Jammu Pathankot National Highway in Samba and Kathua districts in getting irrigation facilities not only to end the woes of the farming community but to result in massive economic development of the area.