One lakh million cubic meter water of river Ravi just flows out from India into Pakistan every year. This water will soon get fully utilized for the benefit and development of the people of Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab. To do this India will soon complete the Ranjit Sagar Dam at the earliest including the barrage as required. The Centre has now decided to step in and share the burden of J&K by financing the constructing of barrage and remaining part of the Dam project.
The above was announced by the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh during the recently concluded meeting of the States of Northern Zonal Council (NZC).The conference was attended by representatives of NZC member States including Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan and Union Territory of Chandigarh and National Capital Territory of Delhi.
During the meeting, the Union Home Minister also requested the member States to direct their respective law and order agencies to ensure that Kashmiri students and businessmen in their States were not harassed instead Kashmiri people be provided conducive atmosphere for studies and business. Rajnath Singh advised all the Chief Ministers and Chief Secretaries that the youth of Kashmir, wherever they are studying, should be treated well and made to feel welcomed. He told the Chief Ministers that the Kashmiris should be provided with a comfortable environment. The request was made after the issue was raised at the NZC meet by Jammu and Kashmir delegation comprising Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh, Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu and Chief Secretary BB Vyas among others.The J&K delegation forcefully took up the issue of power, water and related facilities from Ranjit Sagar dam in Punjab and, sources said, the response of Centre and Punjab Government was very positive.
Even the new Congress Government in Punjab headed by Capt Amarinder Singh, agreed to endorse the agreement, executed by the previous Akali Dal-BJP Government with Jammu and Kashmir, setting at rest the speculations that the new Government might not honour the agreement. Punjab Chief Secretary Karan Avtar Singh told the NZC meeting that Jammu and Kashmir should now ratify the agreement for its early implementation.
Government of India has agreed to fully fund the construction of barrage and remaining part of dam at Ranjit Sagar dam, which is located in Gurdaspur district of Punjab, bordering Kathua, constructed on the canal from Shahpur Kandi Barrage to Madhopur headworks, downstream of the existing Ranjit Sagar dam.
Senior officials of J&K and Punjab were in touch with each other as well as with the representatives of Union Ministry of Water Resources and River Conservation on implementation of the agreement and construction of remaining part of the project. The Centre’s decision to construct barrage and remaining part of the dam would benefit both the neighbouring States of J&K and Punjab.
The Jammu and Kashmir delegation had detailed inter-action with Central team and Punjab officials on host of issues mainly those connected with Ranjit Sagar dam and there was unanimity on virtually all the issues including Clauses of the Agreement reached between the two States in March this year when Akali Dal-BJP Government was in power in Punjab.
Government of India has taken this bold decision of blocking one lakh million acre feet water of river Ravi, which flows from Punjab into Pakistan, every year under the Indus Water Treaty (IWT).The water will be shared equally by Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab, and will be utilized for irrigation of 1.05 lakh acre Kandi belt of Kathua and Samba districts, which will bring green revolution in these two districts of J& K.
It was further decided that out of total 600 MW power generation at Main Thein dam, Jammu and Kashmir will get 140 MW while from 206 MW power generation from barrage, and the State will get 40 MW, making it a total of 180 MW. Thus a total of 20% of total power generated will go to J & K and that to at a very reasonable rate of just Rs 3.5 per unit. This would reduce Jammu and Kashmir’s dependence on the Grid for power supply to some extent.
Commissioner/ Secretary, PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control, Sourabh Bhagat, who had signed the agreement with Punjab Government on behalf of Jammu and Kashmir Government on March 4 this year, said that 1100 acre feet of barren and Kandi land in Kathua and Samba districts will become fertile with release of water in the canal. The canal would almost have an equal water flow like that of Ranbir canal, which gets 1100 acre feet water from river Chenab in Akhnoor and flows up to RS Pura tail end. The new canal, which had been constructed about 15 years back, will get water from Ravi and irrigate almost an equal area in the two districts, he added.
The deal clinched in March this year by the two State Governments had earlier remained elusive as all previous State Governments in J&K had insisted on Rs 8000 crores worth compensation from Punjab for the losses suffered by J&K on account of power and water, which Punjab had to give to the State in lieu of construction of Shahpur Kandi project. Punjab had out rightly rejected J&K demand for compensation of previous losses but had agreed to give power and water in future to the State.
As per 1979 agreement, Punjab had to give 20% power, 15% employment and 1150 cusecs water to J&K as 60% area in Ranjit Sagar dam, which submerged, belonged to Basohli tehsil of Kathua district. However, Punjab scrapped the agreement in 1984. About 1100 families of Basohli, whose land was submerged, were still fighting the battle for employment.
After Ranjit Sagar dam completion, Shahpur Kandi project was taken up. Punjab will construct 2.3 kms long canal from the project while rest has to be constructed by the State Government. In the agreement, J&K had agreed to give up its rigid demand of Rs 8000 crores worth compensation.
The project is being built with an estimated cost of Rs. 2285.81 crore (April, 2008 price level) and is included in the Scheme of National Projects by Government of India. Under the scheme, the Union Ministry of Water Resources, River Development and Ganga Rejuvenation, headed by Uma Bharti will provide Central assistance at the rate of 90 per cent of the balance cost of works component of irrigation and water supply.
The construction of Shahpur Kandi project was taken up in May 1999 but later halted in 2014 due to dispute between Punjab and J&K. The project was conceived in late seventies and since then had been mired in controversies as Punjab had refused to give J&K power and water in lieu of using its share of water
The project will continue to be implemented by the Government of Punjab. However, there will be a tripartite team headed by Member, Central Water Commission (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 Jammu and Kashmir delegation also took up the issue of Kashmir and Kishtwar saffron and wanted the Central Government to brand it in national and international markets. They also demanded that import duty on apple should be raised to assist apple industry of Kashmir. Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh focused on three major issues including 120 MW power from Ranjit Safar dam project for Jammu and Kashmir. He said horticulture is important to economy of the State. He said that apple and saffron were important cash crops, and crucial for the economics of the State.