Pakistan puts a spoke in J&K'sBaglihar power project
By Gopal Sachar
A loss of about Rs 2 crore per day is being caused in addition to the loss in benefits to be accrued on account of energy generation from the much internationalised 900 mw Hydle power project of Baglihar on the river Chenab in Jammu & Kashmir. The reason, alleged hostility of Pakistan.
The project was investigated and designed by the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC), a government undertaking.
As the execution work was going on at a snail'space and the requirements of energy were pressing, the State government decided to execute this project on its own in the state sector.
To ?avoid delay?, the then Farooq Abdullah government of adopted a fast track policy and in controversial circumstances allotted the execution of Baglihar to some foreign companies without inviting global tenders.
In 1999, MoUs were signed with UK based firms M/s Jai Prakash Industries Ltd., for Civil Hydro Mechanical Works, M/s Seimons Hydro Vevy for electrical and M/s Lehmeryr International Consultants for the project.
These foreign companies were paid advances to the tune of over Rs 600 crore. The total estimated cost was put at
Rs 3,810 crore for the first phase. Having the capacity of 45 mw, the first phase was to be commissioned on December 3,2004.
It is a failure of the UPA government at the diplomatic front that Pakistan has been able to internationalise the issue of Baglihar Project of Jammu & Kashmir by seeking the intervention of the World Bank.
The new coalition government leaders of Jammu & Kashmir talked about constituting a probe into the alleged irregularities committed in launching the execution without inviting global tenders and for arranging no adequate funds. At the same time they also made it clear that the work on the scheme would not be hampered because of the dire need for energy in the State.
Mysteriously, Pakistan started raising objections over the design of the project when the execution of the scheme had already crossed half-way.
As the Pakistani objections were not found valid by the Indian authorities, some months ago Pakistan referred the matter to the World Bank for its intervention because of the Indus Water Treaty.
The World Bank is witness to this controversial Indus Water Treaty (IWT), which was signed with Pakistan by the Government of India headed by Shri Jawahar Lal Nehru on September 18, 1960.
Under the IWT, three rivers, namely Sutlej, Beas and Ravi of the Indus basin flowing through Himachal Pradesh and Punjab, were given to India for utilisation of their waters. But under certain compulsions of thinking and approach, Shri Nehru conceded the claim of Pakistan over the three rivers of Indus, Jehlum and Chenab to have their waters without visualising the needs and problems of Jammu & Kashmir although, these three flow through the State.
However, under the IWT, India including the State of Jammu & Kashmir was authorised to harness the power potential of these three rivers. But Pakistan is raising technical objections regarding the designing and height of the dams on Chenab as also elsewhere.
the State government leaders strongly hold the view that this Treaty is detrimental to the interests of Jammu & Kashmir, especially when it cannot utilise the waters of its three main rivers, at times of floods the people of this State have to face their furry.
The adversaries of the Congress allege that it is a failure of the UPA government at the diplomatic front that Pakistan has been able to internationalise the issue of Baglihar project of Jammu & Kashmir by seeking the intervention of the World Bank.
Chenab flowing through hilly areas of Jammu has vast potential for hydro energy. About a dozen projects investigated on this river have the capacity of 15000 mw. But so far only one project on this river named Salal having the capacity of just 345 mws has been commissioned in the past 16 years despite objections raised by Pakistan when it was under execution.
Jammu & Kashmir has a hydle power potential of over 20,000 mw but so far hardly 1500 mw of this potential has been exploited, both under the State and Central schemes.
Notwithstanding this huge potential for energy, J&K continues to face a grim power problem. Against its requirement of over 1,600 mw, under their control the State generates only about 450 mw. And for one reason or the other they were not stepping up the capacity. Over 75 per cent of its requirements are dependent on the Northern grid for which the State has to pay about Rs. 2000 crore per annum.
Baglihar was a big hope for the State for not only reducing the power shortage but also decreasing the burden on the State exchequer. Pakistan by dragging this issue to the World Bank has not only been successful in internationalising the issue but has also caused impediments in the economy of the State.
While Pakistan is out to harm India as also the people of Jammu & Kashmir certain elements for one reason or the other are also contributing to the problems of the State. In this regard it is worth mentioning that the 390 mw Dul Hasti Hydle Power Project has been almost ready for commissioning for about a year now, but its commissioning has been held up mysteriously by certain elements operating within and outside the administration.
It is alleged that a contractor with an eye on the contract of two other major projects in this Doda district is deliberately keeping in abeyance the commissioning of Dul Hasti. The foundation stone of this project was laid as far back as April 14, 1983, by the then prime minister Indira Gandhi. Originally, the project was to be commissioned within five years at a cost of Rs 600 crore. Not only have 23 years gone by but also over Rs. 4,000 crore have been spent on this scheme.
It is over five years now since the late P.R. Kumaramangalam, who was than the minister incharge of Power at the Centre, the State government had signed an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the Union government for execution of seven major hydle power projects in Jammu & Kashmir these included the two most important ones of Bursar with a capacity of 1020 mw and Pakal Dul having a capacity of 1000 mw but, little progress has been made in the execution of these projects by the NHPC. There have been certain uncalled for hurdles created by certain elements from within the State administration itselt. These pertain to the construction of link roads and other infrastructure by NHPC. Under the situation there have been little progress even after expiry of six year of the MoU.
In the circumstances one can say that J&K is facing great paucity of energy inspite of its huge potential for harnessing its rivers and rivulets on its own.