Acting tough after Supreme Court’s verdict against Punjab on water sharing with neighbouring States, the Jammu and Kashmir Government has finally staked claim of Rs 8,000 crores worth losses from Punjab Government for not sharing water of river Ravi with it as agreed upon before construction of Ranjit Sagar dam upstream of Madhopur barrage in Shahpur Kandi town of Pathankot, bordering Lakhanpur in Kathua district of J&K.
Official sources told the Excelsior that notwithstanding the Central Government’s recent intervention to strike truce between Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab by calling a meeting of representatives of the two States, the J&K Government has decided to stick to its old position and written to the Punjab Government seeking compensation of Rs 8000 crores on account of losses suffered by it for irrigation and electricity as Punjab didn’t stick to the agreement with the State on release of water from Ranjit Sagar dam.
“We have written to the Punjab Government claiming losses, which is our legal position as several previous Governments had decided. There were Cabinet notes since long that Jammu and Kashmir would seek compensation for losses from the Punjab Government. We have worked out the losses and finally staked claim from the neighbouring State,” they said.
According to sources, the Government has worked out Rs 6000 crores worth losses on account of irrigation and Rs 2000 crores for power generation and submitted claims to the Punjab Government.
The claims have been worked out by the State Government taking into account the water, which Punjab had to release for Jammu and Kashmir from river Ravi for irrigation purposes in Kathua and Samba districts and the power, which was to be given to the State.
Ranjit Sagar dam has 600 mw power generation capacity. At the time of agreement reached between Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir which the neighbouring State had terminated in 2004 after adopting bill in the Legislature on water sharing, Punjab had to provide 300 cusecs water to J&K from river Ravi.
Asserting that case of Jammu and Kashmir has been upheld as very genuine at various forums including Central Government and other neighbouring States of Punjab, sources said the Supreme Court decision nullifying Punjab’s 2004 legislation that had scrapped water sharing agreements with neighbouring States including Jammu and Kashmir, Haryana and New Delhi, has justified the position of J&K.
Sources said Jammu and Kashmir Government would wait for some days before Punjab officially communicates its decision to the State Government and then go for legal action if Punjab repeated its old position of refusing to compensate the losses. Though a reply from Punjab is awaited, unofficially the neighbouring State has conveyed to the State leaders and officials that the demand was not acceptable to it.
At a recently convened meeting between Jammu and Kashmir and Punjab held at New Delhi at the behest of Union Water Resources Minister Uma Bharti, Punjab was not averse to releasing water to the State from now onwards for irrigational purposes to feed Kandi areas of Kathua and Samba districts.
Sources said Punjab had agreed to bear full cost of construction of project, giving entire electricity generated from the project to Jammu and Kashmir and some other conditions laid down by J&K Government. However, it wanted Jammu and Kashmir to shelve the demand for compensation of past 30 years, which, otherwise, also Punjab was not going to concede. But, the Jammu and Kashmir has decided to stick to its oft-repeated demand, albeit, without any positive response from the neighbour.
The Kandi belt of Kathua and Samba would have been major beneficiary of construction of canal from Shahpur Kandi, which could have irrigated the land of Pathankot, Kathua and Samba districts and changed fortunes of the people of rural belt, who were waiting for this to happen for the past 30 years but continued to suffer. There can be so much irrigation from the project that it would no longer be called the Kandi belt. However, with Punjab Government facing heat from the Apex Court decision that too on the eve of Assembly elections in the State, the dreams of Kandi belt were likely to take much more time to be realized than anticipated.
The new project of canal would have also delivered a blow to Pakistan which was getting excess water from river Ravi in Punjab. The flow of excess water to Pakistan would stop once Shahpur Kandi canal project is constructed.
Punjab was reported to have kept budgetary provision for the canal project and was ready with tendering work once Jammu and Kashmir conveyed its formal nod for shelving demand for compensation of losses, which Punjab was not ready to consider on the ground that there were procedural wrangles involved in it.
Sources said the Union Water Resources Ministry officials too were of the view that Jammu and Kashmir should give up its demand for 30 years compensation in lieu of Punjab bearing construction cost of the canal project and giving entire electricity generated from it from the date the fresh agreement is signed to Jammu and Kashmir. However, Jammu and Kashmir has decided not to accept these conditions and remained stick to its old position that Punjab should first compensate the State for losses before next course of action like construction of canal etc is worked out.
Under the Indus Water Treaty water of Ravi, Beas and Sutlej rivers of Punjab had come in the share of India while that of Chenab, Jhelum and Indus (Sindhu), all in Jammu and Kashmir, was to be shared with Pakistan. Colin Wilson Authentic Jersey