Thursday, May 17, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

Shahpur barrage hangs fire
Tilak Raj Gupta

Gurdaspur, May 16
Uncertainty prevails regarding the start of construction of Shahpur Kandi barrage project (SKBP). Mr P.V. Narasimha Rao former Prime Minister laid its foundation stone on April 20, 1995. It was to be completed within three years.

Governments at the Centre and in Punjab changed and both governments instead of taking up the construction of the barrage focused on completing the Ranjit Sagar Dam dedicated to the nation on April 4 this year by the Prime Minister Mr Atal Behari Vajpayee.

Mr Vajpayee amidst cheers announced that work on the Shahpur Kandi barrage project would be taken up immediately for which he promised money from the Centre for the project on schedule. A little more than a month later in April Mr Parkash Singh Badal, Chief Minister, Punjab, talking to reporters at Pathankot said Rs 200 crore had been set apart for the project in the current year.

Emboldened by the statement of the Prime Minister and the Chief Minister, Mr J.S. Randhawa, General Manager, Ranjit Sagar Dam, performed the formal ceremony for the construction of SKBP. For starting construction of the SKBP, funds were needed which the Punjab Government did not provide. The real position is that the project is at a standstill.

However Rs 2 crore has been spent on the project so far, by way of the survey project report and compensation to the farmers whose lands were acquired for the execution of the project.

The project with present price level will cost more than Rs 1600 crore and generate 158 mw of electricity. The cost of the project initially was estimated to be Rs 126 crore when inaugurated by Mr Narasimha Rao.

Completion of the project is necessary for utilising full generation capacity of 600 mw of Ranjit Sagar Dam. RSD at present is only generating 100 mw of electricity per day.

Insiders said so far it had not been decided whether to take up the project at the departmental level or hand it over to a multinational company.

The Chief Minister had promised to take up the project at the departmental level. But the Power Minister, Punjab, in a statement issued recently favoured handing over the project to a multinational company. Moreover interdepartmental agreements between the Irrigation Department and the PSEB have not been reached and both in their individual capacities are putting forward claims to take up the project.

Initially nearly 1000 employees of the RSD were transferred to the SKBP. As work on the SKBP did not start the RSD employees were called back leaving only 60-65 employees on the rolls of the SKBP lending credence to uncertainty regarding the construction of the Shahpur Kandi barrage project.

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