India is pulling out all stops to complete a hydropower project on a tributary of Jhelum river ahead of schedule to establish a so-called first-use rights on the river water over Pakistan.
The Jhelum orginates in India and flows into Pakistan. According to the Indus Water Treaty of 1960, whoever builds a hydropower project first will have the first right to the river water.
State-run utility NHPC Ltd is trying to complete the 330MW Kishanganga project by 2015, ahead of the January 2016 target, chairman and managing director S.K. Garg said.
The developer has already awarded the engineering, procurement and construction contract to a joint venture of Hindustan Construction Co. Ltd and the UK’s Halcrow Group Ltd.
“We have already spent Rs300 crore on the project and work is going on in full swing. We are getting the tunnel boring machine (TBM) from Italy and expect the project to face no slippage,” said Garg.
Pakistan is also trying for an early completion of the 969MW Neelam downstream project in its territory.
A government official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Pakistan has objected to the Kishanganga project. “If we commission it fast, it will help strengthen our stand. The discussions for other projects are on.”
The Kishanganga project, which has been planned for 20 years, is estimated to cost Rs3,700 crore—or 68% more than initially expected. The increase is on account of the difficult geology and the higher risk associated with the project due to its proximity to the border with Pakistan.
“This is unlike any other project. We are doing everything to get the project completed on time. Investment is not the issue, timely completion is,” said another NHPC executive who asked to remain unnamed. “This project has a lot of strategic importance attached to it. The work progress is being monitored at the highest level in the government.”
India has a hydropower generation capacity of 36,085MW and plans to add 15,627MW by 2012.
On Monday, NHPC also reported results for the three months to 31 March. Profits rose by 1,344.44% to Rs390 crore compared with a year ago, thanks mainly to a change in tariff norms.
NHPC recorded a turnover of Rs750 crore in the quarter, compared with Rs460 crore in the year-ago period.
Tariff norms revised by the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission, the country’s apex power sector regulator, allow electricity generation to earn a return of up to 16% on equity capital.
NHPC also posted a 94.43% jump in net profit for 2009-10 to Rs2,090.50 crore on a turnover of Rs4,218.90 crore.