Gurez: The multi-billion Kishenganga hydro-electric power project (KHEP) could be commissioned by the end of this year, top officials told Kashmir Reader.
The KHEP, which is being constructed by the construction giant, Hindustan Construction Company (HCC), is being funded by the National Hydro Power Corporation NHPC) and is expected to generate 33oMW of electricity.
“We have succeeded in controlling the flow of the water,” said an engineer of the civil department of NHPC. “The dam is complete and the tunnels are already done.”
A run-of-the-river hydroelectric scheme, KHEP will divert water of Kishenganga river through one big tunnel into three smaller diametric tunnels.
“The power plant is being constructed about 24 km down the hill on the Bandipora side,” an official of the electric division of NHPC said. “It has three turbines which will generate around 330 MW of electricity.”
The KHEP is located at least 5 km north of Bandipora main town and a 37-metre-high concrete dam has been constructed in Gurez, where a part of the Shina-speaking local community was completely displaced. The NHPC and state government claim the displaced people have been compensated and rehabilitated.
An official of HCC told Kashmir Reader that work on KHEP is going on at fast pace and “possibly the power project will be commissioned by the end of November this year”.
The civil engineer of NHPC said, “The basic work is completed and we are finishing it… ornamental (decoration) work is going on.”
The work on the KHEP began in 2007 and was expected to be completed in 2016. Officials had reportedly blamed the situation in Kashmir valley for the delay in its completion.
Work on the dam was temporarily halted by the Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration in October 2011 after Pakistan protested its impact on the flow of the river.
Kishenganga is known as Neelum river in Pakistan.
However, the Hague later ruled that India could divert a minimum amount of water for power generation under the mutually agreed Indus Water Treaty (IWT). Signed by India and Pakistan in 1960, IWT gives a detailed framework for sharing the waters between India and Pakistan from the Beas, Ravi, Sutlej, Indus, Chenab and Jhelum rivers.
The KHEP has come under criticism from academics and activists who say the dam has damaged the ecology of Gurez valley. It has been said that the production of cumin was badly affected in Gurez due to the construction of the dam.
On the compensation part, district commissioner (DC) Bandipora told Kashmir Reader that all the fully displaced families have been compensated. “It cost NHP around Rs 48 crore,” Sajad Hussain, the DC, said.
He said that certain families are yet to get compensation. “Those families, partially affected (by the dam), have not been paid anything,” he said.
This was confirmed by MLA Gurez, Nazir Ahmad Gurezi, who said, “About 50-60 families are yet to get relief.”
Gurezi told this newspaper that he did not expect the KHEP to be commissioned this November. “I’m not sure,” he said.
It may be noted that the construction of KHEP is being directly looked after by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO).
“PMO is keen to see its completion,” an official had told Livemint news portal.