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As many as 33 dams along the Chenab, Jhelum and Ravi rivers are expected to be put on the fast track (HT file)
As many as 33 dams along the Chenab, Jhelum and Ravi rivers are expected to be put on the fast track (HT file)

Opinion | J&K’s power surge

Union power minister Raj Kumar Singh is in Srinagar to discuss several hydropower projects. The idea is to have NHPC invest large sums

In an effort to jumpstart the transformation of Jammu and Kashmir after the abrogation of Article 370, Union power minister Raj Kumar Singh is in Srinagar today to discuss several hydropower projects. The idea is to have the state-run NHPC Ltd invest large sums in the erstwhile state and make the most of the mountainous terrain’s potential. As many as 33 dams along the Chenab, Jhelum and Ravi rivers are expected to be put on the fast track.

None of those would violate the 1960 Indus Waters Treaty, a river-sharing agreement between India and Pakistan overseen by the World Bank. Under the treaty, Pakistan is entitled to all that flows down the Indus, Chenab and Jhelum, while India can use the waters of the Sutlej, Ravi and Beas. The treaty has held firm through war and peace, though there have been minor disputes over dam building and other projects (Sawalkot and Tulbul come to mind). Under its terms, India can build run-of-the-river dams on the three rivers allotted to its western neighbour. These are dams that do not obstruct the natural flow of water.

Singh has stated that his ministry’s aim is to utilize all the water in our share. This sounds fair and square, and so Islamabad should have no objection. But given the tensions between the two countries, some friction is only to be expected. The point that the world must bear in mind, however, is that the generation of power could do the former state’s economy a good turn. For decades, too little money was invested in J&K. It’s time to change that. The World Bank would surely agree.

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