ISLAMABAD: In an another blow to Pakistan’s water interests, India has started constructing the Ratle Hydropower Dam project with a capacity to generate 850MWs of electricity on Pakistan’s Chenab River, in violation of the Indus Waters Treaty, documents available with The News reveal.
Pakistan has already objected to this dam, which will be three times larger than the Baglihar Hydropower Dam. Mirza Asif Baig, Commissioner of Pakistan Commissionof Indus Water, confirmed that India had planned to construct the Ratle Hydropower project on the Chenab and Pakistan’s side had objected to the project saying it was a sheer violation of the provisions of Indus Waters Treaty 1960.
“We have come up with strong objections to the design of the said project in a meeting with India at the Permanent Commission of Indus Waters (PCIW) level,” Baig said and vowed that in the future meeting at the PCIW level, he would continue to oppose the said project as its design violated the Indus Waters Treaty.
Senior Pakistani lawyer Ms Shumaila Mehmood, in the case of Kishenganga Hydropower project, said though she was aware of the development but it was the PCIW which dealt with the projects constructed by India on Pakistani rivers at earlier stages.
India has already carved out a plan to generate 32,000MWs of electricity on Pakistani rivers and will be having the capacity to regulate the water flows that are destined to reach Pakistan. So far India has built Dalhasti hydropower project of 330MWs, Baglihar of 450MWs and now it has started a new project named Ratle Hydropower project.
On the Neelum River that joins the Jehlum River in Pakistan, India has already completed Uri-1, Uri-II Hydropower project and is also close to completing the Kishenganga Hydropower project. So much so, it has also built two hydropower projects on the Indus River that include Nimmo Bazgo and Chattak hydropower project.
Sonia Gandhi, along with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, laid the foundation stone of the 850MWs Hydro Electric Project on the Chenab River in the Kishtwar Tehsil of Doda district of the Indian-Held-Kashmir just a few days ago.
This is the first time that both leaders have jointly laid the foundation stone. The electricity to be produced from the project will be injected into the national grid of India that will then be sold to Pakistan.
Former Wapda chairman Shamsul Mulk said that Pakistan needs to develop water uses in its all rivers by building water reservoirs to prevent India from constructing the hydropower project. “Once Pakistan develops its water uses, then it can argue at any international court that India cannot build its project by injuring committed flows of Pakistan.”
He said that there was a strong lobby of India in our country which did not want Pakistan to develop water uses.However, when this horrifying development surfaced, an eminent water expert Arshad Abbasi had sensitised the-then Minister of Water and Power Dr Mussadik Malik, who is now the special assistant to the PM on powers sector, about this alarming development but he did not respond as expected from him. Rather he was an advocate for import of electricity from India.
Dr Mussadik was asked to probe as to who had cleared this project from Pakistan’s side but he didn’t do so. However, Engr Safiq, who is also an eminent water expert, came down heavily on Dr Mussadik saying he is dual nationality holder and is holding a too-much important post and is an advocate of importing electricity from India and asked where the security agencies were. He said that Pakistan’s water sector had become dysfunctional.
According to documents available with The News, the Ratle project envisages harnessing the hydro-power potential of the river from EL 1000m to EL 887m. This is a concrete gravity dam at a height of 170m, will be built across the river just downstream of the Ratle village and an underground power house with an installed capacity of 4X140MWs is proposed near Juddi village, both in Doda district. The main project will generate 2,483.37 Million Unit of Electricity at the rate of Indian Rupee of only 1.22 per KWh.
After meeting of Arshad Abbasi with Dr Mussadik Malik, a brief paper including measures to check the enforcement of Indus Waters Treaty in letter and spirit was sent to Mussadik, but Musadik preferred playing his role in releasing funds for the IPPs, a more lucrative task for him.
Surprisingly, the former interim minister is an adviser to the current regime, and is only advocating importing electricity at Rs16 per unit. Even though he had been briefed about the 1,460MWs Tarbela Dam Extension VI project, he still preferred to advise the government to import electricity from India.
When contacted, Dr Mussadik Malik said: “Yes I was briefed about Indus Water Treaty issue. However, I focused on the power sector keeping in view the crippling power outages. Now after completing my assignment on power sector, I will pay heed to the water sector.”
He said that the government had planned to develop five dams so that for five times, cheaper electricity on water flows could be produced on one main river and more importantly the per capita water availability could be raised to a reasonable level, which now stands at 1,000 cubic metre per person.
About the Rattle Hydropower project, he said that the PCIW is the department which deals with such issues.
Meanwhile, in a letter addressed to the Prime Minister of Pakistan, Abbasi requested to demand EIA (environment impact assessment) report of Ratle Hydroelectric power project. As the land proposed for this project is mostly thick conifer forests, deforestation will have a terrible impact on the river water yield in the future and the victim will be only lower riparian) i.e. Pakistan.