The central water resources ministry on Friday asked the Jammu and Kashmir government to resolve the issue of the Shahpur Kandi dam project and start its construction at the earliest.
This follows Punjab raising the issue with the ministry’s steering committee led by secretary Alok Rawat, which monitors progress of all projects of national importance.
Officials of Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir were present at the meeting; and a meeting of both sides is expected next week after the Jammu and Kashmir government resumes work after the recent floods.
The UPA government in 2008 had cleared the Rs 2,285 crore, 206 megawatt Shahpur Kandi dam project downstream of the Ranjit Sagar dam to be built on the Ravi.
The irrigation department of the Punjab gover nment started construction on the dam site in January 2013, but on August 29 this year, the Jammu and Kashmir government stopped the construction saying there was no agreement for sharing of waters and power from the project.
Following this, a visit by Punjab irrigation secretary Kahan Singh Pannu and chief engineer Harvinder Singh to Srinagar to urge the Jammu and Kashmir government to allow resumption of work failed to get any result.
Jammu and Kashmir asked Punjab to guarantee that a fresh agreement was signed in which the Centre was also involved, besides accepting that the 1979 agreement no more existed.
“The Shahpur Kandi barrage (dam) is part of the Thein dam (Ranjit Sagar dam) project, which is built over 61% of Jammu and Kashmir’s land. It was initially a Punjab-Jammu and Kashmir joint venture but Punjab was to keep certain promises, such as 20% power of 120 megawatts to our state from the Thein dam and share of water from the Shahpur Kandi barrage, which never materialised,” a senior Jammu and Kashmir official had said, adding that in the past 35 years since the agreement was signed, the scenario had completely changed and things needed to be looked at afresh.
More over, the termina-tion of the agreement act by Punjab in 2004 had cancelled all previous agreements signed by the state with other states, so there was no point in Punjab raising the issue that it would abide by the provisions of the 1979 act was Jammu and Kashmir’s contention.