Pak Objection On Baglihar Contradictory: CM
20 January 2005
The Indian Express
Srinagar: Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed said if Pakistan was sincere towards the people of Jammu and Kashmir, it would not try to stall the construction of the Baglihar power project aimed at ending their prolonged hardship on the power front. He said the construction was in no way violating the Indus Water Treaty between India and Pakistan, and any technical team was welcome to inspect the project to confirm it. Mufti Sayeed was talking to media persons here this afternoon. He responded to a series of questions on subjects ranging from smooth transition of power in the state to civic polls and the appointment of a committee by the Centre on autonomy to Jammu and Kashmir. 'We are on a sound footing,' the Chief Minister said when asked about his reaction on Pakistan's decision to go to the World Bank seeking to stop the construction of the 900-MW Baglihar hydel project. He said the project is a run-of-the-river scheme and the Indus Water Treaty has not been violated by its construction. The Chief Minister said on the one hand Pakistan was talking about the interests of the people of Jammu and Kashmir, and on the other it was trying to stop an important project that would resolve the acute power shortage. He said that the state had already incurred a whopping sum of Rs 2500 crore on this Rs 4000-crore project. He said being encouraged by stalling construction of the Tulbul Navigational Lock in the Wullar to stabilize water level in the Jhelum, Pakistan was now trying to stop Baglihar, the flagship of Jammu and Kashmir's economy. He said the state government was spending annually Rs 1.25 crore on maintaining the infrastructure of the Tulbul project. He called for revival of the project to ensure adequate water for the hydel projects on Jhelum. The Chief Minister set at rest speculations about transition of power in Jammu and Kashmir later this year saying that it would happen according to the terms of the agreement reached between the Congress and the People's Democratic Party. He said he was ready to step down at the end of his three- year term as a Chief Minister in November 2005. Mufti Sayeed welcomed the Centre's announcement to appoint a committee to discuss autonomy for Jammu and Kashmir. He said the initiative was good, but for addressing the problem in totality all groups would have to be involved in the dialogue process. Responding to a question on the call given by the separatists to boycott the upcoming civic polls, the Chief Minister said he did not find any relation between the two. He said that the elections to the civic bodies were meant to address the small problems of people relating to civic amenities and had no bearing on the internal or external dimensions of the Kashmir problem. He said that he had placed no restriction on those who profess boycott of polls. He said that by advocating the boycott they were not serving their interest. The Chief Minister said that Srinagar and Jammu Municipal Corporations would be made functional like their counterparts in Delhi or Mumbai. He said by holding the civic polls in Jammu and Kashmi after a gap of 27 years, the government was empowering people at the grassroot level. The participation of women in sufficient numbers had further added credibility to these, he said. Mufti Sayeed said that he would take up with the Centre the inconvenience likely to be encountered by people of the valley in going to Jammu for obtaining passport following the temporary closure of the passport office here in the wake of its gutting in a militant attack recently. The Chief Minister said that his government did not claim to have done miracles but there were several achievements to its credit, the foremost being the sense of security among people and restoration of democratic process in the state.