Kashmir's Dulhasti power project is ready
8 May 2007
Indo-Asian News Service
Jammu: After 24 long years, the first phase of the Dulhasti hydroelectric project over river Chenab in Jammu and Kashmir is ready to supply 390 MW of power.The project in Kishtwar district has been constructed by the National Hydroelectric Projects Corp (NHPC), a government undertaking. Test runs have already begun. Power Minister Rigzin Jora said it was ready to be formally commissioned. 'Undoubtedly, Dulhasti will provide more capacity for power,' he said. Located about 200 km northeast of the state's winter capital Jammu, the project was initiated in 1983 by then prime minister Indira Gandhi at a cost of Rs.34 billion. Work on the project came to a standstill for five years due to terrorist violence. This escalated its cost by Rs. 10 billion. The power situation in the state has been a key focus area for the government for decades. Jammu and Kashmir requires around 1,900 MW per year at peak demand, of which about 1,000 MW are available. The commercial loss is approximately Rs. 40 billion each year, say government officials.The Dulhasti project has also helped improve employment opportunities in the region. The project was undertaken in collaboration with five French partners. The construction required a 700-member strong workforce. In its operational state, 430 people will be working every day. The project involved excavation of an 11- km tunnel through the mountains.Other states set to claim stake in the Dulhasti output include Haryana, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Rajasthan and Chandigarh. But that may change as Jammu and Kashmir has requested Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to transfer the project to the state as part of the centre's plan to boost the state's economic development. 'I am confident the central government will accept our demand,' Chief Minister Ghulam Nabi Azad had said recently.