Shahpur Kandi Project Will Benefit Farmers As India Takes Daring Decision To Stop Water From Barrage To Pakistan

Shahpur Kandi Project Will Benefit Farmers As India Takes Daring Decision To Stop Water From Barrage To Pakistan

The Indus treaty says that India reserves all exclusive rights over the water of Ravi, Satluj and Beas whereas Pakistan fully controls the water of Jhelum, Indus and Chenab.

KS TomarUpdated: Sunday, March 03, 2024, 02:16 PM IST
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Keeping nation’s interest supreme and preserving the essence of Indus Waters Treaty 1960 about sharing of water, India has stopped water flow to Pakistan which precedes completion of about Rs 3300 crore Shahpur Kandi project on river Ravi which will usher a new era of prosperity in hundreds of villages in Jammu and Punjab thereby having an entitlement of irrigating 32,000 hectares and 5,173 hectares of land respectively.

It is a dream coming true after a gap of almost 32 years for the population of 6, 16,435 in Kathua and 3, 18,892 in Samba districts who had to suffer due to lack of irrigation facilities and barren land was a curse which will become a boon as barrage will be path to progress in future. Similarly, thousands of farmers will be benefited and Punjab will have an advantage of generating a 206 MW capacity project which may be functional by the end of this year.

NARSIMHA RAO WAS ARCHITECT OF THE PROJECT AND MODI PUSHED IT

It was in 1995 when former prime minister, late Narsimha Rao laid the foundation stone of Shapur Kandi barrage but it was entangled in wrangling between Punjab and J&K governments which delayed its execution for four and half years thereby pushing its cost escalation from Rs 2793 crore to about 3300 crores primarily owing to price escalation. At this Prime Minister Narender Modi intervened and union minister of state in PMO and resident of Jammu made relentless efforts to ensure resumption of the work and get the required finances from the centre's water resources ministry. Former chief minister, Amrinder Singh had persuaded the centre to reduce its share from 60 % to 14 percent which was agreed by the ministry. The project has a power component of -71.39% and irrigation constituent of -28.61 % and centre financed it through NABARD. Situated downstream of the current Sagar Dam in the river Ravi in Punjab’s Pathankot district, Sahpur Kandi dam is having a height of 55.5 meter concrete gravity , 7.70 Kms long hydel channel, two head regulators and two powerhouses which will serve twin purpose of irrigation and power generation to earn revenue.

PAKISTAN MAINTAINS A STUDIED SILENCE

Experts say that there would have been hue and cry in Pakistan over the decision of the government of India to stop the water but the Indus Water Treaty 1960 has put a break especially when its provisions have not been violated. The Indus treaty says that India reserves all exclusive rights over the water of Ravi, Satluj and Beas whereas Pakistan fully controls the water of Jhelum, Indus and Chenab. It may be recalled that Prime Minister Modi had pledged in 2016 to ensure the utilization of waters of Ravi, Satluj and Beas for the benefit of farmers. He had made it clear that India will take logical steps to avert the wastage of water which flows to Pakistan and Shahpurr Kandi project is in consonance with his contention and commitment. As a fallout of the PM's announcement, a task force was constituted to study the utilization

of waters from three rivers and methodology of making it available to the farmers of J&K and Punjab. As per old record, Pakistan’s secretary of water reprocess, Khawaja Shumali had expressed Pakistan’s viewpoint which did not contradict India’s stand of stopping water from its side as it fell under Indus Water Treaty 1960.

BENEFITS TO J&K AND PUNJAB

Experts believe that farmers of Jammu region will be the main beneficiary of the project which will eliminate the curse of barren quality of the land and herald a new era of prosperity. The future generations will no more face torture of having land which is “dry” which is virtual meaning of “Kandi” as greenery will replace the old curse less irrigated land.2nd,the regular threat of floods and devastation will become a thing of past which will give relief to the villagers. 3rd, J&K canal of 1378 meters will take care of the irrigation of downstream land in Kathua (512 villages, population 6,16,435 )and Samber(368 villages, population 3,18,898) districts of Jammu.4th, J&K will get 20% of the power generated through the project at the rate of Rs 3.40 per unit with prospective effect besides its entitlement of 0.69 million acre feet (MAF) of water from the Ravi and at present, 0.215 MAF is being utilised by the state.5th, the Shahpur Kandi project will provide a balancing reservoir to enable upstream Ranjit Sagar Dam project to act as a peaking station besides having total generation capacity of 206 MW and irrigating facility of five thousand one hundred seventy three hectares. Due to inability of Upper Bari Doab Canal (UBDC) to handle more flow of water, handling of maximum output of Ranjit Sagar dam is generating 300 MW only though capacity of 600 MW hence no chance of upping the generation. The new dam will add 206 MW and no water will be wasted which currently flows to Pakistan.6th, tourism potential will get boost in both states which will add to states; kitty.

Analysts opine that political willpower supersedes the bureaucratic hurdles and financial imbroglio which is visible in the obstacle ridden journey of Shapur Kandi barrage but the final result is of sombre nature as it will bring cheers of the sulking faces of lakhs of farmers in Jammu and Kashmir as well as Punjab.

(The writer is political analyst based in Shimla)

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