International Team To Inspect Kishanganga Project Today17 June 2011
Srinagar: With India and Pakistan continuing to share a strained relation over 330-MW Kishanganga power project in JK’s Bandipora district, a high profile team of international experts and representatives from governments of the neighboring countries arrived here Friday to inspect the scheme in accordance with the provisions of Indus Water Treaty. While the 10-member Indian delegation is led by Indus Water Commissioner G Aranganathan, his Pakistani counterpart, Sheraz Jamil Memon, is heading 9-member team which crossed to this side of Kashmir from PaK via Kaman Post in Uri town of North Kashmir’s Baramulla district, reported PTI. Besides, 10 members from Court of Arbitration of the World Bank, which was approached by Pakistan for intervention, would be part of the team which is on 4-day inspection tour. India has been maintaining it is strictly complying with the IWT over construction of Kishanganga, Pakistan continues to allege that the project was violating the treaty which was brokered by World Bank between the two countries. An official said the entire team will head for Gurez to inspect the project on June 18, sources said. After a meeting on the same day, they will carry out another inspection of the project on June 19 and conclude their visit on June 20, the official said. “Pakistan has been alleging that the construction of the projects involves changing sub-basin of Kishanganga River in violation of the Indus Water Treaty. They allege that the construction of the tunnel which will lift Kishanganga water from Gurez for power generation at Bandipora will hit the water economy of Pakistan,” an official said. Pakistan had submitted a case in the Court of Arbitration on May 27 this year against 330 megawatt hydro power and storage project. On its part, however, Government of India is firm on its stand that the project was strictly following IWT. “There is no question of violating the treaty. The height of the dam for the project has already been reduced from the original 98 meters to 37 meters following objections from Pakistan,” said a top official. But the 330-MW Kishanganga project, which was handed over to National Hydroelectric Power Corporation for construction in 2000 has been marred by controversies for quite a long time now. Though initially started in 1997, the project hit roadblock following refusal by the then Union Power Minister Suresh Prabu to provide counter guarantee for its construction. Later the contract, on turn-key basis, was awarded to Hindustan Construction Company Ltd (HCC) - India's leading construction and infrastructure company- in joint venture with United Kingdom's leading firm Halcrow Group Ltd. The contract is on turnkey basis and valued at approximately Rs 2726.49 crores. Jamat Ali Shah, Pakistan’s Water Commissioner has reportedly stated that in 1989 Pakistan told India that it was planning to construct power project in Neelam Valley. Kishanganga River is called Neelam River in Pakistan. On its side, Pakistan is also constructing a power project on Neelam. But IWT provides that the project which is completed first would be declared viable and the other would be rendered non-viable. India has reportedly inspected the project site in Pakistan in 1992-93. However Pakistan has been alleging that they were informed about Kishanganga as a storage work in 1994 which was changed to run-of-the river scheme in 2006. Presently civil work including construction of 23 km long and 5.4 meters wide tunnel from Dawar in Gurez to Kralpora in Bandipora is going on the project. While Tunnel Boring Machines are in work from Bandipora side, the conventional Drill Blast method is used from Gurez side due to weak geology of the area. The tunnel would lift a portion of water from Kishanganga, a tributary of Jhelum, in Gurez to dam site in Malik Kadal where after exploiting for power generation it would end up in Wullar.