Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir have reached out an agreement to resolve issues relating to the Shahpur Kandi Dam project, proposed to be built downstream Ranjit Sagar Dam (Thein Dam) on the Ravi in Gurdaspur district. The project comes under the Indus Water Treaty, thus helping India utilise its rights on eastern rivers of the basin.
Disclosing this here on Saturday, a state government spokesperson said the agreement was facilitated by the Union ministry of water resources, also a cosignatory in the pact.
Haling the agreement, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal said Punjab had always stood for equitable distribution of water resources between the riparian states and he looked forward to receiving a formal approval from the J&K government soon.
The Punjab team was led by additional chief secretary (revenue & irrigation) KBS Sidhu, while secretary, irrigation, Saurabh Bhagat represented J&K. Negotiations were conducted in the presence of secretary of the Union ministry of water resources Amarjit Singh, while J&K chief secretary BR Sharma and principal secretary to J&K CM Bharat Vyas participated in the discussion through video-conferencing.
Tagged as a national project by the Centre, it was to be built with an estimated cost of Rs 2,285.81 crore (as per April 2008 price level) and is expected to generate 206 megawatt electricity, an official statement said. The project will continue to be implemented by Punjab and its design shall be as agreed by both states. Model studies will be carried out concurrently to ensure J&K gets its mandated share of 1,150 cusecs of water.
Among other decisions, it was decided that Punjab will bear the balance cost on account of compensation for land acquisition in respect of Thein Dam, located nearly 10km upstream the Shahpur Kandi Dam.
“Punjab will also share with Jammu and Kashmir 20% of the total power generated at Thein Dam at the mutually agreed rate of Rs 3.50 per unit immediately. This is subject to confirmation of the rates by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission,” the statement read.
The latest agreement essentially reaffirms the 1979 agreement and also approves the crest levels of 398.40m as agreed between the chief engineers of the two states, said the spokesperson.
A tripartite monitoring team, headed by a member of the Central Water Commission, would be constituted to oversee the work. The Punjab government agreed to pay the pending land acquisition enhancement claims expeditiously as soon as they were approved by the statutory authorities under the Land Acquisition Act, said the spokesperson.
The Punjab government reiterated its commitment to construct the balance 2.3km Ravi canal and siphon for the Kashmir Canal, co-terminus with the construction of the Shahpur Kandi Dam.
All other claims and counter claims would be resolved through the arbitration process. Secretary irrigation KS Pannu and chief engineer Harvinder Singh (retd) were also present.
The two states reached the understanding even as the Permanent Indus Commission is expected to meet later this month to discuss various issues related to the Indus Water Treaty. India had last year decided to suspend talks with Pakistan over the treaty in the wake of Uri terror attack.
The NDA government at the Centre had also decided to exercise India’s rights under the treaty by increasing use of the basin river waters. India has underutilised its share of the river water until now.
(With PTI inputs)