SRINAGAR: A agreement was signed here today between the J&K Chief Secretary BVR Subrahmanyam and his Punjab counterpart Karan Avtar Singh on implementation of Shahpur Kandi Dam Project which was hanging fire for several years.
The agreement was signed in the presence of J&K Governor, Satya Pal Malik and the Minister for Water Resources, Punjab.
The ambitious Shahpur Kandi Dam Project on the River Ravi is a major irrigation Project which benefits both Jammu & Kashmir and Punjab. J&K is entitled to 0.69 MAF of water from River Ravi of which only 0.215 MAF is being utilized by the State.
While the construction of 79.5 kms Ravi Canal and 493 kms of distribution network in J&K has been completed, the lack of progress on the Shahpur Kandi Dam Project and some disputes relating to the Thein Dam have led to non-utilization of the waters of River Ravi that J&K is entitled to.
With the signing of today’s noteworthy agreement, the Project will immensely benefit the districts of Kathua and Samba besides catering to some parts of Jammu district. It will irrigate 32,000 hectares of agricultural land (80,000 acres)in the Kandi areas, upstream and downstream along the Jammu-Pathankot national highway in Samba and Kathua districts. This will ensure the prosperity of the farmers of these areas and will lead to overall development of the region.
J&K can get 41 MW of power from this Project, in addition to 20% of the power of the Thein Dam. This Project will be completed by the Government of Punjab in three years and the water is expected to flow to J&K by the end of 2020.
As per the agreement, Jammu & Kashmir shall be provided with full quantity of water of 1150 cusecs of water under all circumstances subject to a ceiling of 0.69 MAF water is entitled to as per the 1979 Agreement.
Other significant specifics of the agreement include that the Project will continue to be implemented by the Government of Punjab. However, there will be a tripartite team headed by Member, CWC and consisting of Chief Engineers of two States to monitor the Project as and when required but at least once in three months to ensure that the construction is as per the Agreement.
The balance costs on account of compensation (approximately Rs115 crore) for land acquisition in respect of Thein Dam, as per the agreement, will be paid by the Government of Punjab immediately, as per the orders of the relevant statutory authorities under the Land Acquisition Act.
Jobs to the landousteesshall be given by the Government of Punjab as per the agreed Rehabilitation &Reconstruction Policy of both the State Governments. As per the agreement, employment to remaining 861 displaced families shall be provided under this proviso.
The Government of Punjab will reiterate its commitment to construct the balance 2.3 km Ravi Canal and Siphon for the J&K Canal con-terminus with the construction of the Shahpur Kandi Dam. Accordingly, the Government of Punjab shall fully fund the construction of 2.3 km of Ravi Canal and Siphon for J&K Canal.
The Government of Punjab shall make available to J&K 20% in the total power generated at the Thein Dam at the rate (busbar rate) fixed by CERC with a ceiling of Rs3.50 per unit, with prospective effect.
All claims and counter-claims of both States, on account of delayed implementation, will be settled through arbitration as per 1979 Agreement.
The Government of Jammu and Kashmir shall have the right of first refusal in respect of its entitled share of 20% power from Shahpur Kandi Dam at the SERC rates.
The water supplies to both States of Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir, in the operation stage, will be under the Joint Steering and Supervision of a Committee of the representatives consisting of CWC and the Governments of Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir.
Pertinently, the most critical element which has been introduced now and which was not there either in the MoU of 2017 or the Cabinet Decision of 2017 is the introduction of “Joint Steering and Supervision” of water supplies during the operation of the Dam. This is the safety clause which will ensure that the Jammu and Kashmir is never deprived of its original share of waters and protects its interests in perpetuity.