New Delhi: Stepping up its game in Kashmir, India plans to fill up the reservoir to galvanise the 330 MW Kishanganga hydropower project in Jammu and Kashmir.
The move is in line with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to step up exploitation of India’s share of water in the Indus Water Treaty (IWT).
In September, last year, 18 soldiers were killed when militants stormed an Indian Army battalion headquarters in northern Jammu and Kashmir (Uri region), close to the Line of Control. Following that, Modi had directed officials to pursue full exploitation of rivers under the IWT.
Signed by India and Pakistan in 1960, IWT gives a detailed framework for sharing the waters between India and Pakistan from the Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum rivers.
“Last year, political unrest didn’t allow us to complete the work. Nearly all our construction work is already complete. This season we will fill the reservoir," a senior official of the Union ministry of water resources, river development and Ganga rejuvenation said, requesting anonymity.
The project was supposed to be inaugurated last year but the political unrest and tension along the India-Pakistan border delayed its completion.
The 330 Megawatt (MW) Kishanganga Hydro Electric Project (330 MW) by the public sector National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) involves construction of a 37 metre high concrete dam in Gurez valley of Bandipora area of Jammu and Kashmir.
For the project, the water of Kishanganga River will be diverted through a tunnel into an underground powerhouse with three units of 110 MW each for generating electricity. Its total cost is estimated to be Rs3,642.04 crore. The construction work at the project site started in 2009.
Pakistan while objecting to the design of the 330MW Kishanganga project, says it will result in a 40% reduction in water flowing into the country, which it says is against the provisions of IWT.
India, however, has brushed aside such concerns.
To resolve the differences, there was a meeting of Indus Water Commissioners in Lahore earlier this year and that was to be followed up with a meeting in Washington but that did not happen.
Earlier this month, J&K government’s chief secretary reviewed the progress of the project including the implementation of the Resettlement and Rehabilitation (R&R) plan of the Project Affected families (PAFs and the status of demolition of structures and tree felling in the submergence area.
The water ministry official further said that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s office has been overseeing the progress of the Kishanganga project and other projects such hydropower projects under IWT.
“PMO is keen to see their completion," the official added.
Elizabeth Roche contributed to this story.