Work on Baglihar will not be stopped: Mufti
20 March 2005
Our Staff Reporter
Jammu: The Jammu and Kashmir Government has decided that work on the prestigious 450 MW Baglihar project would not be shelved under any circumstances as it would play a crucial role in the State's economic development.The issue had recently snowballed into an international one, as Pakistan had raised objections to the dam's construction. 'Collective decision' Talking to The Hindu here, the Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, said: 'Our Government has taken a collective decision that the Baglihar project would not be stopped at any cost as it is the flagship of the State. Clearly, by objecting to the construction of the dam, Pakistan has decided to watch its economic interests and these interests clash with the people of the State. But without any ambiguity, we have to watch the interests of the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The State is already facing a severe power crunch during the winter and lot of precious resources have to be utilised to purchase power. The power purchase for the financial year 2004-05 was budgeted at Rs.1160 crores, including power purchase from Jammu and Kashmir Power Development Corporation. The actual amount as per the revised estimates is Rs. 1,318 crores — an excess of Rs.158 crores. To put this figure in perspective, almost all the State's own revenues — tax and non-tax — are consumed in the purchase of power.' Pakistan wanted the World Bank to resolve the dispute over the Baglihar hydropower project, as it considers it to be a violation of the Indus Water treaty. The treaty deals with the Indus system of rivers in the Indus basin and comprises the Indus and its five main tributaries — Jhelum, Chenab, Sutlej, Ravi and Beas. Under the treaty, India gets consumptive rights over three rivers flowing through Punjab, whereas Pakistan gets rights over Jhelum, Chenab and Indus that flow through Jammu and Kashmir. Mr. Sayeed said Pakistan's objections to the construction of the dam are baseless, as the 690 MW Salal hydro- project was situated on the downstream of the Baglihar project on the Chenab. He said any attempt to release excess water would damage the Salal project, which would directly hit the electricity supply to neighbouring States like Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. In the same way, excess water cannot be stored as it would decrease the power production, he added. He said the State Government was raising a loan of Rs. 1770 crores for the Baglihar project. The Jammu and Kashmir Power Development Corporation (PDC) has signed an agreement with a consortium comprising nine big financial institutions for the loan. The Centre has also given a grant of Rs. 630 crores for the project.