Case against Ranjit Sagar Dam chief engineer upsets Punjab

  • Gurpreet Singh Nibber, Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
  • Updated: May 11, 2015 09:00 IST

Punjab hasn’t liked the criminal negligence case slapped on its chief engineer in charge of Ranjit Sagar Dam for the sudden release of water into the Ravi river that killed a man and some livestock in Jammu and Kashmir.

Punjab’s irrigation minister Sharanjeet Singh Dhillon has termed the case registered on Saturday on the orders of the Kathua deputy commissioner as “painful” and “uncalled for”. He has asked the Punjab irrigation secretary for a report by Monday.

Punjab irrigation secretary KS Pannu has reached the dam to pacify the state’s officers and engineers posted there. Chief engineer Anil Sood said he had no role in the release of water. “I feel relaxed that my government is with me,” he told HT, though sounding much worried.

“It is painful that such a thing happened between neighbouring states. Fatal accidents are unfortunate, but it doesn’t mean a criminal case should be made out against any officer,” said Dhillon. Sources said the engineers of the irrigation and power department are also agitated, demanding a counter-case against the Kathua DC about threatening and obstructing an officer on

The engineers said that on March 17 and April 3, Jammu and Kashmir had released huge amounts of water (84,000 and 80,000 cusecs, respectively) from Ujh dam, causing a heavy damage in the downstream Punjab area of Ajnala. They are demanding treating the issue on the similar line as DC Kathua acted. Reached over telephone, Jammu and Kashmir irrigation secretary Parvez Ahmed Malik called for a system of institutional exchange of information about the release of water.

“We want to not prosecute anybody but streamline the issues for which Jammu and Kashmir has been pressing Punjab for past sometime,” he said, demanding information in time about the release of water from the dam. He said the normally about 4,500 cusecs of water was discharged when the dam operated one turbine to generate 150 megawatt energy, but the need for more electricity in summer required more turbines to be operated and it cause sudden flooding of the river.

He denied, though, that the water released from Ranjit Sagar had caused any flood in Jammu and Kashmir. Meanwhile, the Punjab electricity department is silent. All attempts to reach Punjab power secretary Anirudh Tiwari were futile.

Accused rules out flooding

Pathankot: Chief engineer Anil Sood said the release of water from the Ranjit Sagar Dam reservoir and the production of electricity from it were decided by the Patiala office. “As far as I know, the amount of water released over the past few days is too small to cause flooding,” he said.

The Kathua administration’s warnings to Gujjars (shepherd community) to stay away from the rivers have fallen on deaf ears, and still a large number of them camp on the riverbed, causing accidents such as the one that happened on Saturday.

Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir are already in a standoff over the Shahpur Kandi Barrage Project, where the fight has stalled construction for many months now.

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