iconimg Saturday, September 05, 2015

Gurpreet Singh Nibber , Hindustan Times
Chandigarh, January 23, 2014
The law that prevented Punjab's water from running to Haryana now blocks the coming in of electricity from Jammu and Kashmir.
The Rs. 2,287-crore Shahpur Kandi project of national importance and 206-megawatt hydel energy are held up until the state repeals the Punjab Termination of Agreements Act that the-then government of Captain Amarinder Singh enacted in 2004.

The project on the Ravi river will also lead to optimum utilisation of the 600-megawatt Ranjit Sagar dam. In a recent communiqué to Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir has blamed it for stalling the work by ending all previous agreements in 2004; and sees no solution as long as the law remains.

The neighbouring hill state accused Punjab of not taking it into confidence before proposing the project to the union government and getting it the "national importance" status in 2009. "Punjab has not cleared its stand on previous agreements with us. Without clarity, we'll not let the project take off," Pawan Kotwal, hill state's commissioner and secretary of public health engineering, irrigation and flood control, told HT over telephone.

"How can Punjab move ahead with the project single handedly when 90% of the land required falls in Jammu and Kashmir," the secretary questioned. In May last year, Punjab had assured the hill state it would abide by the agreement signed in 1979 for the Ranjit Sagar dam project. Punjab chief secretary Rakesh Singh had assured the other state that the 2004 Act did not apply to it.

The 1979 agreement gives Jammu and Kashmir 20% share of electricity in Ranjit Sagar project with 600 megawatt installed capacity. Taking the plea that Punjab had not fulfilled the deal, the hill state has held up clearance to the project and claimed that Punjab would receive no unit from Ranjit Sagar unless it compensated by paying the cost, to which the latter has refused.

The deal promised electricity and water to Jammu and Kashmir from Ranjit Sagar, and included that both states would move Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) for fixing the tariff for power going to the hill state. Punjab has agreed to sign a fresh agreement. "But no fresh deal was signed, and only promises came from Punjab," said Kotwal.

The secretary added that the cabinet of his state had passed that it would not clear the project until it had a new deal and, after that, a joint special purpose vehicle (SPV) to build the project.

Cost of delay

1970s Ranjit Sagar dam conceived
RS 70 crore original cost estimate
1982 foundation stone laid
1998 completed
Rs 6,800 crore final cost
Underutilised as Shahpur Kandi project is yet to take off; hypothetical losses in thousands of crores of rupees