February 2005 News

J&K Will Go Ahead With The Baglihar Hydel Project: CM

11 February 2005
The Indian Express

London: Despite protests from Pakistan, work on the Rs 4,500 crore Baglihar hydel power project in Jammu and Kashmir continues and it will be completed early next year, Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who is London, said. 'We are not afraid of Pakistan approaching the World Bank. The bank can send its panel and visit the site as we have not violated the Indus-Water Treaty,' the Chief Minister said last night. He said the state had already spent about Rs 2,500 crore and the 900 mw project, located 150 km from Srinagar on the Chenab river in Doda district, would be completed early next year. Under the Indus-Water Treaty, India gave up its claim to use water from three eastern rivers: Jhelum, Chenab and Indus (all flowing from Jammu and Kashmir) to Pakistan in lieu of the three western rivers - the Sutluj, Beas and Ravi - that it retains. The treaty, signed on September 19, 1960, was brokered by the World Bank. Besides the World Bank, the treaty also involves Britain, Australia, Canada, Germany, New Zealand and the US. These countries are part of the collateral to the Indus Water Basin Development Fund Agreement. Sayeed, who is on his way to attend a tourism conference in dubai, earlier told reporters that infiltration into the state from across the border had definitely come down to a large extent after the border fencing from Katua to Kargil. Replying to a question on his future as Chief Minister, Sayeed said: 'There is an agreement with the Congress and I will hand over the reign in November this year.' Sayeed, who is to attract British tourists to the Kashmir Valley, urged the UK government to revise their travel advice as near total normalcy was prevailing in the state and an estimated five lakh tourists from the rest of the country had visited last year. Asked whether he had any specific solution to the Kashmir problem, the Chief Minister said: 'A solution acceptable to everybody will be acceptable to us. The solution will be only through dialogue and through evolution.' The CM said he is keen that the bus service from Srinagar to Muzaffarabad in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir be started at the earliest. Asked about the plight of Kashmiri pandits driven out of their homeland and now living in camps in Jammu and outside the state, Sayeed said: 'We have taken some initiative. This coming season, we will be rehabilitating some of them.' On the problem of orphans in the state, Sayeed said: 'We have thousands of orphans. Even the Army has adopted more than 2,000. Efforts are on to rehabilitate them.' The Chief Minister said the government has been considerate about the economic problems of Jammu and Kashmir and it had received special allocations for power, road, railways, industry and education. 'If growth rate in the country is 8 per cent, it is 16 per cent in Jammu and Kashmir. There is no problem of resources. It is a problem of utilising the funds. Even the Asian Development Bank has allocated more than 250 million dollars for building infrastructure destroyed by militants,' he said. Sayeed said there has been a definite change in the atmosphere in the state, especially after the 2002 elections. He attributed the change to the strategy adopted by his government and also good governance, strengthening of democratic institutions and allowing people to propagate their own ideas and viewpoints. Referring to the developmental work being undertaken in the state, Sayeed said the work on the railway line to Srinagar was progressing rapidly and the airport at Srinagar was being converted into an international airport. The recent municipal corporation elections were an eyeopener for everyone, he said. Despite stray cases of violence, people came out in large numbers to participate in the polls, he said adding that a large number of women, mostly doctors, engineers and teachers had entered the fray which augured well for the state. The Chief Minister, who held talks with leading tour operators, also held discussions with intellectuals at the Chatham House yesterday. Sayeed, who is accompanied by his daughter Mehabooba Mufti, MP and President of the Peoples' Democratic Party, would leave for Dubai.


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