Tenders and IWT

The Jammu and Kashmir Power Development Corporation had sought permission from the Election Commission to invite tenders for engaging consultancies to quantify the losses caused by the Indus Waters Treaty (IWT).  The Election Commission, it is believed, had given the go-ahead. An English firm entrusted with the job had backed, and the JKPDC had been sleeping over the matter, only to wake up at election time –  to convey a wrong message.

The losses suffered by the state have already evoked heated debate. The delay in inviting fresh tenders reflects the lethargy of the people who run this vital corporation. And this is not the only time has failed the masses. The corporation has misplaced documents/agreements executed by the NHPC with state authorities.  It is believed that the documents have been stolen. The disclosure was made by JKPDC officials when the civil society launched a movement for the transfer of NHPC-run power projects to the state.  Surprisingly, no probe was ordered to fix responsibility for the severe lapse. This can have a serious bearing on the claims of the state.

But the matter can be investigated even now. The documents have to be found and there cannot be any compromise on it. Meanwhile, the corporation must speed up the process of quantifying IWT losses although it brings yet another shortcoming to the fore.  By inviting fresh tenders, the corporation has made clear that it is not aware of the losses suffered by the state because of the infamous treaty.  The IWT was signed between India and Pakistan in 1960 as a settlement for water sharing. The treaty gives India exclusive rights to use the waters of the eastern rivers – Sutlej, Beas and Ravi – and their tributaries before they enter Pakistan. Pakistan, under the treaty, has secured rights over the waters of the western rivers – Chenab, Jhelum and Indus, which originate in J&K and flow into Pakistan.

It’s estimated that J&K has faced losses to the tune of Rs 20, 000 crore due to the water-sharing agreement, which prevents the state from full exploitation of its water resources to generate electricity. There is no exit clause in the IWT but nothing in the treaty bars the state from seeking compensation for the losses suffered. The state has to show some seriousness.  At least, the JKPDC must inform the public on the response it has received to its tenders, and what progress it has made.