New Delhi: The Ujh-Multipurpose Project in Kathua region of Jammu and Kashmir that had been held up for several decades for various reasons was revived after intervention by Prime Minister Narendra Modi about 5-6 years ago and after several rounds of meetings, the revised proposal for it was cleared in January 2022 at an estimated cost of Rs 12 crore.
On Friday, Union Minister for Jal Shakti Gajendra Singh Shekhawat gave a deadline of three months for all the paperwork to be completed and directed the officials to prepared for the foundation laying ceremony by August 15 this year for the project that is part of the Indus Basin and hence, comes under the Indus Water Treaty (IWT).
Shekhawat’s directions came at a high-level meeting held at the Jal Shakti Ministry to review the progress of work at the project. The meeting was co-chaired by him and Earth Sciences Minister Jitendra Singh.
“The project has been delayed for long. Even after Prime Minister Modi’s intervention, the procedural delays had taken up much time. Singh had been taking a follow up and as part of this, today’s meeting was called. After the discussions and presentations by the officials were done, came Shekhawat’s instructions,” said an officer aware about the developments in the meeting.
The instructions were clear. “Complete the paperwork in three months and ensure that the foundation stone laying ceremony can be held by August 15,” the Minister told the officials present.
The Central Water Commission had done a detailed techno-economic review of the project and the revised proposal was accepted in the 148th technical advisory committee meeting held in January 2022 at an estimated cost of Rs 11,907.77 crore.
The expected timeline of completion of the project is about six years and once completed, the project will store around 781 million cubic metres of water of river Ujh, which is a tributary of river Ravi.
“After completion of the project, utilisation of waters of Eastern Rivers allotted to India as per the Indus Water Treaty would be enhanced by utilising the flow that presently goes across the border to Pakistan,” the Ministry said.
Under the 1960 vintage Indus Water Treaty (IWT) between India and Pakistan, the two countries share the waters of six rivers in the Indus basin that flow through India towards Pakistan. Of these, India has complete rights over three eastern rivers – Sutlej, Beas, and Ravi, while Pakistan has rights over the western rivers Chenab, Jhelum, and Indus.
India can, however, build run-of-the-river projects on the western rivers. Over the last five years, the government has been on approval and construction spree to fully tap the potential in the Indian side of the Indus basin.