Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) was constituted under Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966, to manage the Bhakra and Beas projects and to regulate the release of waters of rivers Satluj, Ravi and Beas. It supplies electricity to Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Chandigarh and irrigates land, besides supplying drinking water. BBMB chairman AB Agrawal spoke to HT on a range of issues. Excerpts:
Do you think that the performance of multipurpose projects have stood the tests of time?
Multipurpose projects are embedded in the immediate post-independence history of the country. Besides being the flavour of time, they were considered the foremost allies in the multi-pronged planned development model. Our multipurpose projects like Bhakra and Beas are living testimony of the benefits thrown up by such projects. The BBMB projects have surpassed all expectations. Besides providing 14,000 MU of power every year, irrigated about 40,000 sq km of land in Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan and supplied drinking water. These projects have ushered the green revolution in the northern region and have been the harbinger of industrialisation, job opportunities and all round prosperity.
What are the constraints in developing a project like Bhakra and Beas Projects?
While multipurpose projects offer a lot of benefits, their development is dotted with numerous constraints, the most challenging is the submergence. The principal hallmark of a massive multipurpose project, is its reservoir which is a source of power generation, irrigation and others. Creation of such reservoirs necessitates submergence, which in some cases, may require major rehabilitation of people. The challenge is then to create an air of acceptance among the local populace and make them a significant stakeholder in the development process.
Is BBMB venturing into new multipurpose projects?
BBMB, is, in fact, the progeny of the Satluj-Ravi-Beas master development plan conceived during pre-independence era and the Act of Parliament —Punjab Reorganisation Act 1966. It has primarily been envisaged as the agency for administration, operation and maintenance of Bhakra and Beas project, as a part of the scheme to utilise the three rivers whose exclusive use was awarded to India as per Indus Water Treaty, 1960.
What are your plans for increasing power generation capacity?
BBMB has been the largest hydro power producer in the country, before NHPC matured. We are also concerned by the widening demand — supply gap in the country and earnestly wish to contribute overwhelmingly to the national grid.