Prime Minister Narendra Modi is set to inaugurate the Kishanganga Hydroelectric Project in northern Kashmir’s Gurez in the first week of May. The 330 MW power project, which has been contested for a long time by Pakistan, was commissioned in stages over the past month.
The Kishanganga Hydroelectric Project is a run-of-the-river project that includes a 37-meter high concrete rock fill dam across the Kishanganga River, located just before it flows across the Line of Control (LoC) into Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). It diverts the water to an underground power house through a 23.25 km tunnel.
The project will generate 1713 million units per annum, the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) has said. The state of Jammu and Kashmir would be provided with 12 percent of the power generated by the project.
The project features three power generating units of 110 MW each, all of which were successfully commissioned in the beginning of April. NHPC has said that all three units have been synchronised with the grid and the project achieved full generation of its rated 330 MW capacity.
The hydel dam is located in the Gurez Valley of Bandipora district, north of Srinagar. It also lies to the north of Wular Lake, the site of another Indian project that Pakistan has attempted to stop.
Pakistan has for years tried to block the Kishanganga Project, using the pretext of the Indus Waters Treaty. It brought the World Bank into the dispute, since it was this body that had helped negotiate the treaty in 1960. World Bank failed to bring the two neighbours on common ground.
Pakistan then took the matter to the International Court of Arbitration. It alleged that India did not have to right to construct any project that would divert water from the rivers in the Indus water system.
However, the International Court of Arbitration in February 2013 ruled decisively affirming India’s right to divert the waters of the Kishanganga, as it is one of the ‘western rivers’ of the Indus system. The only condition that the ICA placed on India was that it should ensure a certain minimum flow in the Kishanganga to support the environment downstream.
Pakistan has complained that the Kishanganga Project affects its own Neelum Jheelum Hydropower Plant. The Kishanganga is called the Jheelum on the other side of the LoC. Pakistan had written to the World Bank again last month against the project, which had left even Pakistani media scratching its head on the point of it.