A mammoth dam to generate 4,500 MW a day will come up on the Indus in Gilgit in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir despite India’s objections.
The Pakistan government cleared construction of the $8.5 billion Diamer-Bhasha power project, which will reportedly be built with Chinese help, possibly workers who constructed the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest.
Pakistani officials privately said they expected an adverse reaction from India on the location of the dam.
India had in 2004 objected to the dam being built saying it fell in territory Pakistan illegally occupied and there was the danger of floods in Jammu and Kashmir.
The dam site is in what Pakistan calls its Northern Areas, which is directly administered by Islamabad, unlike the rest
of occupied Kashmir.
Under the Indus Water Treaty, Pakistan is free to build dams anywhere on the river.
In New Delhi on Friday, the External Affairs Ministry and the Water Resources Ministry, both, refused to comment.
“We only react after getting confirmed reports,” said a Ministry of Exetranl Affairs official.
Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal was out of the country and ministrry officials declined to comment.
The Pakistani Water and Power Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said the 272-metre-high dam would have a storage capacity of 6.4 million acre-feet and it would irrigate more than 33 million acres.
It would also help reduce sedimentation in the downstream Tarbela Dam.
The Diamer-Bhasha project is ten times the size of the 450MW Baghlihar project that India commissioned on October 10, 2008, in the Jammu region. Pakistan had gone to the World Bank against construction of the Baglihar dam, accusing India of violating the Indus Water Treaty.
The World Bank, which is a guarantor of the treaty, had appointed a Swiss engineer to settle the case.
The treaty gives India first rights over the waters of the Ravi, Sutlej and Beas and Pakistan the same privileges over Indus, Chenab and Jhelum. One of the major reasons for Jammu and Kashmir not fully exploiting the hydro-power potential of these six rivers is the Indus Water Treaty.
Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has described the Treaty as a “ bottleneck for us to generate power from the rivers owned by Jammu and Kashmir.”
“ The treaty was signed long ago and both the countries need to re-visit its provisions and work out a formula under which Jammu and Kashmir can benefit by utilizing the waters of its own rivers”, the chief minister maintained.