M A I N   N E W S

Punjab, J&K face-off: Shahpur Kandi project shut
Jupinderjit Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, September 5
The deadlock between the Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir governments over the Shahpur Kandi project continues as the secretary-level talks held early today failed.

Though Punjab hopes that “doubts” of the J&K Government will be clarified during the chief secretary-level talks to be held later, construction work at the site remains suspended. A team of Punjab officials, led by Irrigation Secretary Kahan Singh Pannu and Chief Engineer Harinder Singh, returned from the site today with the J&K Government refusing to budge.

The chief secretary-level talks, which were earlier scheduled for this week, have been delayed due to heavy rains and floods in J&K.

The work at the site had resumed in January this year, after nearly 30 years it was started. The project was effectively conceived up-stream on river Ravi in 1985 after coming up of the Ranjit Singh Dam.

In 2010, J&K had called off its participation in the project arguing that Punjab had not kept its promise of supplying power and water to the Ranjit Sagar Dam. In January this year, J&K terminated the agreement on the project after Punjab started construction.

After exchanging letters, the two states came in direct confrontation early this week when a team led by the Kathua Deputy Commissioner impounded the construction machines and material. Thereafter, the Punjab team was rushed to the site.

J&K argues that Punjab has terminated all its river water projects, so it will not allow the state to work on the project. It also argues that the two-third part of the area on which the dam is being built belongs to J&K. However, Punjab claims that the total area of the dam and the reservoir will have equal share of both states.

Kathua DC Shahid Iqbal Chaudhry said the work was stopped and machinery confiscated following orders of the state government. “Punjab was building project on our land. It was sheer encroachment as the agreement over the project was already terminated,” he said. A member of the Punjab team said J&K had issues over the design and had “some misgivings and mistrust” which they had cleared. He said it was unfortunate that force was used to halt the project. “The work had begun on war footing. Apart from new machinery, 700 tonnes of cement was being used daily at the site. We hope that talks at more senior level will find a permanent solution.” The project was forgotten after it was officially notified in 1985. It hogged limelight when in October 2010 J&K Irrigation Minister Taj Mohiuddin refused to give land to Punjab.

Tiff between the two states

n Deadlock continues as secretary-level talks between Punjab and J&K fail

n Punjab hopes to clear “doubts” of the J&K Government during the chief secretary-level talks to be held later

n J&K had called off its participation in the project arguing that Punjab had not kept its promise of supplying power and water to the Ranjit Sagar Dam





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