The Union Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday approved the implementation of the Shahpurkandi Dam Project in Punjab. The project will allow India to arrest the country's share of Ravi River's water currently going "waste" as it flows into Pakistan, the government said in a statement, adding that its completion will create an additional irrigation potential of 5,000 hectares in Punjab and 32,173 hectares in Jammu and Kashmir. Moreover, Punjab will be able to generate 206 MW of hydropower.
As per the Indus Waters Treaty - which was signed between India and Pakistan in 1960 - India got the full rights for utilisation of the waters of three rivers, Ravi, Beas and Satluj. However, at present, some water of Ravi is going waste through the Madhopur Headworks, which the project intends to minimise.
The project will be implemented by the Punjab government and the Centre will provide financial assistance of over Rs 485 crore (for the irrigation component) to the state over five years from 2018-19, The Times of India reported. The overall cost of the project is pegged at Rs 2715.70 crore and it is slated to be completed by June 2022.
The construction of the dam was initially approved by the Planning Commission during November 2001 but work could not progress much, initially due to the Punjab government's fund paucity - although the central assistance of Rs 26 crore was released during period 2009-11 - followed by a dispute between Punjab and J&K. A series of meetings held bilaterally as well as at the Centre-level finally paved the way for an agreement between the two states in early September.
The funding for the central assistance component will reportedly be made through NABARD under existing system for funding of 99 Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sinchayee Yojana - Accelerated Irrigation Benefit Programme projects under the Long Term Irrigation Fund. "In addition to existing monitoring mechanism for projects by Central Water Commission, a committee headed by Member, Central Water Commission and consisting of concerned Chief Engineers of Punjab and J&K and other concerned officers would be constituted to oversee/monitor the implementation of project," the statement added.
According to the government, the implementation of project will also give a big boost to job creation. The dam's construction is expected to generate 6.2 lakh man-days employment for unskilled workers, 6.2 lakh man-days employment for semi-skilled and 1.67 lakh man-days employment for skilled workers.
(Edited by Sushmita Choudhury Agarwal)