Shahpur Kandi project
The power situation in Jammu and Kashmir has not improved but has worsened further. The State Government has been talking of taking back hydro-electric power projects from public sector to make them workable for the State’s requirement has remained a nonstarter till date. The issue has remained a vexatious one for the State, Centre and power majors like NHPC. Then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had made bold statements to get back Salal and Dulhasti from NHPC and the Shahpur Kandi project on the propriety of the usage of water. Omar at that time had made a strong case for raising free power quota from existing 12 per to 30 per cent in all Central hydro-electric projects in the State. He also sought compensation to the State for Indus Water Treaty that restricts Jammu and Kashmir from exporting hydel power and tapping irrigation potential in full measures. Since exclusive and equitable development of three regions of the State stands at the core of Govt’s agenda, the delivery of basic services and public goods across the diversity and remoteness of the State requires generous and sympathetic financial support. Though at that time Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) which was in opposition had taken cudgels for the economic betterment of farmers, in 2015 Jammu and Kashmir had agreed to sign a fresh pact with the Punjab Government and fast-track the completion of the much-delayed 206 Megawatt (MW), Rs 2,285-crore Shahpur Kandi dam project on the Ravi river. The development was significant as the J and K Government had on 3rd September, 2014, stopped construction work on this dam. Since then, a series of meetings were held between Punjab and J and K authorities. Punjab requested that the construction work in J and K territory should be resumed, but the neighbouring state didn’t budge. As a confidence-building measure, Punjab offered to execute a fresh agreement on the lines of the 1979 agreement, if J and K so desired. Today the sides have changed and PDP is heading the government the story of bringing back the power projects remains elusive as it was. The politics of power sharing is complicated and even if the politicians of the day want it back it is not going to be a smooth journey so that at least State’s dependence on external source of power requirements becomes less.