Controversial Kishanganga Project to Begin Construction
India will shortly start construction on Rs.3,642.04 crore Kishanganga hydropower project after International Court of Arbitration at The Hague having ruled in its favour. Pakistan had questioned the “legality of the construction and operation of an Indian hydro-electric project” under the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960. India had said that building the dam was within its rights.
The treaty regulates the use of Indus river waters by India and Pakistan. Pakistan’s argument was that the Indian project would affect the Neelum-Jhelum project constructed by Pakistan downstream of the Kishanganga project.
“We will start work on the project immediately,” said Jyotiraditya Scindia, minister of state for power with independent charge, said. He said the project comprises 3 units of 110 MW each. The project located in Baramullah in Jammu and Kashmir involves the diversion of the Kishanganga river, a tributary of the Jhelum into an underground powerhouse near Bandipur and the discharge of the water into the Wular lake. The ICA said on 18 February that the 330 MW project was a run-of-river project.
“India may accordingly divert water from the Kishanganga/ Neelum River for power generation by the Kishanganga Hydro-Electric Plant and may deliver the water released below the power station into the Bonar Nallah,” it said. “India is however under an obligation to construct and operate the Kishanganga Hydro-Electric Plant in such a way as to maintain a minimum flow of water in the Kishanganga/Neelum River, at a rate to be determined by the court in a final award,” it said.
The state-controlled NHPC Ltd project involves construction of a 37 metre tall concrete dam. While work was stopped on the dam due to the arbitration initiated by Islamabad in 2010, work continued on the 24 km long head race tunnel.
“We are awaiting orders to start construction on the dam. The contention was on the dam. Other work was on,” said a senior NHPC executive requesting anonymity. The civil construction work for the project was awarded to Hindustan the lead partner for the project.
While planning, Construction Co. Ltd, design and engineering is being undertaken by the UK’s Halcrow Group, tunneling, electro mechanical and hydro mechanical work is by Italy’s Seli SpA, state-owned Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (Bhel) and Germany’s DSD Noell, respectively. While the project is expected to be commissioned by 2016-17, GoI has already spent Rs.1,390.53 crore on it. The first year tariff is expected to be Rs.2.99 per kWh with the average tariff set at Rs.3.29 per kWh.