Centre nod for Chenab hydel project despite Pakistan objections

Centre nod for Chenab hydel project despite Pakistan objections

The Centre on Wednesday decided to go ahead with the long-pending 850 megawatt Ratle hydroelectric power project on the river Chenab in Jammu and Kashmir’s Kishtwar district, despite objections raised by the Pakistan government over the same.

J&K Lieutenant Governor Manoj Sinha said the approval for the Rs 5,822 crore project came at a cabinet meeting chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier in the day.

To be built near Drabshalla village in Kishtwar, then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had laid the foundation stone for the project on June 25, 2013. However, the Pakistan government had objected to the construction of the dam, claiming that it was not in conformity with the Indus Water Treaty.

In August 2017, the World Bank allowed India to construct the dam and the following year, the erstwhile state government approached the Centre with a proposal to resume construction.

Accordingly, an MoU was signed between the National Hydel Power Corporation (NHPC) and the Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation Limited (JKSPDCL) in the presence of Modi at Vijaypur in Samba district on February 3, 2019 and work on the project began in December 2019.

Pakistan has approached the World Bank with fresh protests, but the Centre has now decided to go ahead with the construction.

On Wednesday, L-G Sinha said the project will be a joint venture between the NHPC and the JKSPDC having an equity of 51 per cent and 49 per cent, respectively, and will be completed in five years.

The JKSPDCL equity will be paid by the Centre, he said.

The L-G said the power share of J&K from the project will start from 8 per cent and increase to 12 per cent in the 12th year. “It will be the first hydel power project in the country from which we will start getting power from the day it gets commissioned,” he said.

“If calculated in terms of money, Jammu and Kashmir will get electricity worth Rs 5,289 crore free of cost,” he said, adding that the Union Territory will also get water usage charges worth Rs 9,581 crore over a period of 40 years.

The L-G said the project will generate direct and indirect jobs for 4,000 people in addition to the 2,000 jobs created directly and indirectly in the commissioning of the 540 MW Kwar hydroelectric power project on the Chenab, the MoU for which was signed recently.

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