May 2005 News

Baglihar's first phase complete

9 May 2005
The Daily Times
Iftikhar Gilani

New Delhi: Engineers at the controversial Baglihar hydropower project have said that almost 72 percent civil and 81 percent electro-mechanical works for the first phase of the project have been completed. They said the project would go into operation by December. The engineers told Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, who visited the site on Sunday, that they had already begun work on the Phase II.The project envisages a total cost of Rs 40 billion of which Rs 27 billion have been spent. About 7,000 people are working on the project including skilled labour and engineers.Project Chief Engineer Ghulam Hassan Rather told Mufti that the civil works were being executed by contractors Jaiprakash Associates of the Jay Pee group while electric works were being implemented by a German Consortium Voith Siemens & VA Tech. Another German company, Lahmeyer International is supervising the work on behalf of the Kashmir government.Satisfied with the pace of work, the chief minister said there was no question to stop the work on this project, which he called, 'the jugular vein of Jammu and Kashmir'. He said the completion of the project would change the power scenario in Kashmir.While in opposition, Mufti objected the project accusing the then chief minister Dr Farooq Abdullah of receiving huge kickbacks while floating tenders for the project. Experts say the entire exercise was tailor-made to suit the Jay Pee group.According to rules, applying firm should have a turnover of 125 percent more than the cost of the project. Jay Pee did not meet this benchmark, but it was given the contract, which it sub-leased to NNE, a Norway-based firm.The state's daily power requirement in winter is about 1,700 megawatts, out of which Kashmir alone is 900 megawatts. The local generation, during winter, is about 200-220 megawatts, a shortage of 1,500 megawatts. Any additional power has to be bought from New Delhi and other states.Against Rs 19 billion spent on power last financial year, the Kashmir Electricity Department could get back just Rs 2 billion.


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