Baglihar: More confusion over US press report
22 April 2005
The Indian Express
EXPRESS NEWS SERVICE
Jammu: Any update on the Baglihar project controversy? Yes. There’s more confusion, with Washington-based South Asia Tribune stating that India and Pakistan have arrived at an agreement on the project, dubbed as ‘‘the lifeline of J&K’’ by Chief Minister Mufti Sayeed in the state assembly only a fortnight ago. In its April 21 edition, South Asia Tribune has claimed that New Delhi and Islamabad ‘‘have come to an agreement on the project that Pakistan will withdraw its case from the World Bank and India will suspend construction of the Baglihar project’’. Advertisement G H Rather, Managing Director, J&K State Power Development Corporation, told The Indian Express that state government have no information regarding this. ‘‘The state government has already made it clear that it will not compromise on the Baglihar project. I think Pakistan is just doing politics on it because in our opinion, there is no harm to Pakistan from the present form of the project,’’ Rather said, adding, even Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had said there is no need for Pakistan to go to the World Bank on the issue. The 450 MW capacity ambitious Baglihar project started in 2000. Meanwhile, the BJP’s state unit raked up the newspaper report at a press conference on Friday and described it as a ‘‘very dangerous step of the UPA Government’’. ‘‘We are approaching (BJP chief) L K Advani. The issue should be raised at the national level and in Parliament,’’ said BJP spokesman Hari Om. Pakistan recently raised certain objections on the project and threatened to approach the World Bank. South Asia Tribune’s report, quoting CPI in-charge of J&K Shamim Faizi, claimed that ‘‘both sides have reached an understanding on this issue’’. Once a joint committee is formed, ‘‘Pakistan would withdraw its case from the World Bank and India would suspend construction work on the site’’, it said. Former Union Minister of State for External Affairs and National Conference president Omar Abdullah said if this information is true, it is not in the interest of the state and the country. ‘‘This project was started when Farooq saheb’s government was in the power. We will not accept any compromise on the project,’’ said Abdullah.