Shahpur Kandi dam: Punjab, J&K agree to sign fresh pact
CHANDIGARH: Jammu and Kashmir has agreed to sign a fresh pact with the Punjab government and fast-track the completion of the much-delayed 206 megawatt (MW), Rs 2,285-crore Shahpur Kandi dam project on the Ravi river, according to official sources.
The new accord is likely to be signed in November by the two chief ministers.
The development is significant as the J&K government had on September 3, 2014, stopped construction work on this dam. Since then, a series of meetings were held between Punjab and J&K authorities. Punjab requested that the construction work in J&K territory should be resumed, but the neighbouring state didn’t budge.
As a confidence-building measure, Punjab offered to execute a fresh agreement on the lines of the 1979 agreement, if J&K so desired.
In July this year, chief minister Parkash Singh Badal wrote a letter to his J&K counterpart, reiterating Punjab’s position that the state’s controversial legislation Termination of Agreements Act, 2004 - did not apply to J&K. The legislation had annulled the agreements entered among Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan on the sharing of Ravi and Beas waters. Badal also informed the J&K CM that an affidavit had been filed in the Supreme Court to this effect.
After a marathon meeting in Srinagar on Thursday evening, the two chief secretaries hammered out long-standing administrative differences pertaining to this dam, which was declared a national project in February 2008 by the Centre. Both sides decided to execute a fresh agreement after addressing some minor irritants and completing pending procedural formalities, sources in J&K and Punjab governments told Hindustan Times.
The Punjab delegation, led by chief secretary Sarvesh Kaushal and including secretary (irrigation) Kahan Singh Pannu, had a detailed dialogue with J&K chief secretary BR Sharma, secretary (law) Mohammad Ashraf Mir and secretary (irrigation) and flood control department Parvez Malik.
The two sides decided that minor issues brought to the fore by the collector, land acquisition, Basohli (Kathua), would be resolved before October 23, when the top brass of both states would meet again and thereafter steps would be initiated for signing a fresh agreement.
It was decided that the Punjab government would shortly provide the design of the project for technical vetting by J&K so that no inter-state issue cropped up over this project in future.
Before the next and ostensibly final meeting on October 23 between the two chief secretaries, technical vetting of the design would be conducted and issues flagged by the collector, land acquisition, Basohli, vis-à-vis some villages would be resolved.
After the October 23 meeting, the details would be placed before the Punjab cabinet for the final nod. Thereafter, the chief ministers would sign the fresh pact.
Sources say the Punjab government has agreed to construct a 2.3-km canal from the Shahpur Kandi project to Basantpur and a siphon for the discharge of 690 cusecs of water for the Lakhanpur lift irrigation scheme. Both sides agreed that jobs would be provided as per the eligibility of the affected persons and requisite funds provided for pending compensation to eligible land oustees.
The dam will provide increased and intensive irrigation benefits for 3.48 lakh hectares in Punjab.