The irrigation department of Punjab may have started the process of calling tenders for the 206MW Shahpur Kandi hydel power project, but the union ministry of water resources has for now refused to release its share, that is Rs 530 crore of the total project cost of Rs 2,290 crore.
Reason: Peeved over alleged lack of benefits from the existing Ranjit Sagar project, Jammu and Kashmir has refused to lease out its 1,525 acres for the Shahpur Kandi project, which is to be built downstream of Ranjit Sagar on the river Ravi and covers tracts on both sides of the inter-state border.
The move comes despite the fact that Punjab has already given to J&K the entire cost of the land, which is required to construct a channel for water to be released in a controlled manner from the Shahpur Kandi project. It was conceived in 1999, but delay has taken the project cost up from Rs 1,324 crore to Rs 2,290 crore.
In a recent meeting with representatives of Punjab and the Centre, J&K chief secretary Madhav Lal vented his government's ire. "Requisite land was provided for the Ranjit Sagar project, but the state has not [got] power/water benefits as per the agreement of January 1979. Unless all related issues are settled, J& K is not in position to lease land for Shahpur Kandi project," he said, as per the minutes of the meeting.
As the J& K government said it was not ready to lease out land in view of "non-cooperative attitude of Punjab" in fulfilling the 1979 agreement and also because of delay in construction of Shahpur Kandi project, the Punjab chief secretary said there were political and administrative reasons, "but now the state has decided to expedite it (Shahpur Kandi project) and hopes to complete the work in three years."
"We agree that a few things could not be done in the past, but J&K should not oppose the project as it would also benefit them without spending a single rupee," Shahpur Kandi project chief engineer Harvinder Singh told HT.