- Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir has signed an agreement on the Shahpur Kandi project.
- The genesis of the Shahpur Kandi project can be traced to a 1979 agreement between Chief Ministers Parkash Singh Badal and Sheikh Abdullah of Punjab and J&K respectively, for the Ranjit Sagar (Thein) Dam, to be built on the Ravi on the border of the two states.
- To optimise the utilisation of the water, a second dam was to come up at some distance downstream, at Shahpur Kandi in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district.
- Prime Minister Indira Gandhi laid the foundation of the Ranjit Sagar dam in 1982 and the project was completed in 1998.
- In July 2004, the Punjab Assembly passed The Punjab Termination of Agreements Act, 2004, unilaterally abrogating its water-sharing agreements with neighbouring states.
- The central government declared Shahpur Kandi as a “national project” in 2008.
- The Irrigation Department of the Punjab government started building the dam in January 2013, but the Jammu and Kashmir government stopped the construction, saying there was no agreement for sharing of waters and power from the project.
- It was in the light of the Assembly action in 2004, that Jammu and Kashmir demanded a firm commitment from Punjab that its rights over the water and power from the Ranjit Sagar dam would be protected in perpetuity.
- J&K said it was uncertain about Punjab’s commitment to share power, water and economic benefits that would flow from the project and it asked Punjab to guarantee that a fresh agreement was signed in which the Centre would also be involved.
- Since then in order to ensure that India makes full utilisation of its “unrestricted” right over the waters of the “Eastern Rivers” — Ravi, Sutlej and Beas — of the Indus basin as per the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty, 1960, the central government began to actively mediate between Punjab and J&K.
- Now, the efforts mediated by Water Resources Minister Nitin Gadkari and monitored by the PMO, led to an agreement being signed on September 8, 2018 between the Chief Secretaries of Punjab and J&K, and the Indian Commissioner of Indus Waters.
About the Shahpur Kandi Project
- It is located in Gurdaspur district, Punjab.
- The project will be constructed on the canal from Shahpur Kandi Barrage to Madhopurhead works, downstream of the existing Ranjit Sagar Dam.
- The water released by Ranjit Sagar Dam shall be utilised for generating power from this project.
- The Shahpur Kandi project will provide a balancing reservoir to enable the upstream Ranjit Sagar Dam project to act as a peaking station, besides having its own generation capacity of 206 MW and irrigating 37,173 hectares of cultivable command area in Punjab and J&K.
- The installed capacity of the Ranjit Sagar Dam is 600 MW, but only 300 MW is currently generated at maximum output as the Upper Bari Doab Canal (UBDC) system cannot handle more flow, and water would go waste to Pakistan if generation is sought to be upped.
- With the construction of the Shahpur Kandi dam, a gross storage capacity of 12,071 hectare metres would be provided, so it would be possible to generate 600 MW at Ranjit Sagar without letting any water downstream of Shahpur Kandi.
- The flow of water from the Shahpur Kandi dam would be regulated to utilise the entire water for fields in Punjab and J&K through UBDC system and the J&K canal from the Madhopur Headworks in Pathankot.
- The project would be completed in three years.
- While the project will be implemented by Punjab, a tripartite team headed by a Member, Central Water Commission (CWC), and comprising the Chief Engineers of the two states, will monitor it.
Gains for Punjab
- It would generate 207 MW power and irrigate 95,000 acres of land for Punjab’s farmers.
- Shahpur Kandi is as vital to Punjab as the Bhakra and Ranjit Sagar Dam projects, and would allow India to utilise fully the water of the Ravi as per the Indus Waters Treaty with Pakistan.
Gains for J&K
- J&K will get 20% of the power generated through the project at Rs 3.40 per unit with prospective effect.
- J&K is entitled to 0.69 million acre feet (MAF) of water from the Ravi, of which only 0.215 MAF is being utilised currently.
- Following the agreement, Kathua and Samba and some parts of Jammu district will benefit, as agricultural land in the Kandi areas, upstream and downstream along the Jammu-Pathankot national highway in Samba and Kathua districts, will be irrigated.