CHANDIGARH, Aug 11 : Three years after stalling the work on 168 MW Shahpur Kandi dam project over the Ravi river, the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) government has finally agreed to allow Punjab to restart the project.
The go-ahead was given in a meeting of J&K council of ministers late Wednesday night and the decision was conveyed to the Punjab government on Thursday. The breakthrough came after several rounds of meetings between the officials of Punjab and J&K, and the intervention of Prime Minister’s Office (PMO). PMO officials had met officials of the two states in May and July this year. Officials from the two states say the work on the project will take a month to begin again.
“The work will begin soon. Only logistics are to be worked out now,” Punjab’s principal secretary irrigation VK Singh told.
Paving the way for the resumption of work on the project, a fresh agreement was signed in March last year when both states agreed on their share of water and electricity. It’s a zero-cost project for J&K.
The work on Shahpur Kandi dam project, declared by the Centre as a project of ‘national importance’ in 2009, had originally begun in April 2013. In August 2014, the J&K government objected to the project, taking the plea that Punjab might not adhere to the agreement on sharing of water and power, in the light of the Termination of Agreements Act of 2004, by which all water sharing agreements were cancelled by Punjab.
The Rs 2,287-crore Shahpur Kandi project, which is a twin project of 600 MW Ranjit Sagar Dam on its downstream, will help in optimum utilisation of Ravi water, which is currently flowing into Pakistan.
Of the total project cost, 71.39% is to be shared by the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) and 28.61% by the state irrigation department. The project cost shared by the irrigation department will come as a grant from the Union ministry of water resources, while PSPCL will have to raise its share on its own.
The Ranjit Sagar dam is currently generating 325 MW of power.
PROJECT CONCEIVED IN 1970s
The project was conceived in late 1970s when its total cost was pegged at around Rs 70 crore only. The initial agreement was signed in 1979 between the then Punjab chief minister Parkash Singh Badal and the then J&K CM Sheikh Abdullah.
The foundation stone of the Ranjit Sagar dam, of which Shahpur Kandi was a part, was laid in 1982 by the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi, on the same day when the stone was laid for the Sutlej-Yamuna Link (SYL) canal at Kapuri in Patiala district.
The Ranjit Sagar dam was completed at a cost of Rs 6,800 crore in 1998, but it remained under-utilised as Shahpur Kandi project never took off. Experts say if the loss of power generation is calculated due to delay in these projects, it will easily be thousands of crores of rupees.
Due to the stalling of the project for three years, the Punjab government had to give a huge penalty to construction companies Soma of India and Russia-based Bureya, which are jointly executing the project.