Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh on Tuesday, kick-started work on a 850 megawatt hydro-electric Ratle project on the River Chenab as part of efforts to tap the hydroelectric potential in Jammu and Kashmir.
The 850 MW Ratle project, which is the first hydroelectric project that was bid out through tariff based international competitive bidding, will cost Rs 5,500 crore, Singh said laying foundation stone of the project.
“I hope that every effort will be made to complete the project by its scheduled deadline of February 2018,” he said adding electricity generated from the Ratle project will bring prosperity to the people of Jammu and Kashmir.
The project was awarded to GVK Power which offered the lowest tariff for generating power.
Prime Minister said the state is back on path of progress after some difficult times. “Besides other things, power is essential to our efforts to bring development to the state.”
As against a potential of generating 14,000 MW of power from rivers like Chenab, Jhelam and Sindh, only 2,500 MW is currently being generated in Jammu and Kashmir, he said.
“Central and state government are trying to harness the remaining potential,” he said.
Despite power generation in the state rising to 1,664 MW, Jammu and Kashmir continues to be a power deficit state, he said announcing supply of 150 MW of electricity from Central pool to the state.
Also, state-owned National Hydroelectric Power Corp (NHPC) has recently completed two projects in the state to make available 89 MW of electricity.
Prime Minister said a sum of Rs 262 crore is being spent on environment management and rehabilitation and resettlement of those affected by the Ratle project.
Addressing a public gathering in presence of the Prime Minister, Dr Manhoman Singh, UPA Chairperson, Sonia Gandhi, Governor, N N Vohra, Union Minister, Ghulam Nabi Azad and various other Central and State dignitaries, the Chief Minister said that optimum utilization of two great resources of ‘water and natural beauty’ possessed by Jammu and Kashmir could transform the economic and development scenario of the State.
Omar Abdullah said that State Government with the help of Union Government is endeavouring to harness the rich hydro electric potential of the State. “We want to generate surplus electricity to supply it to other parts of the Country and lay strong edifice for the economic growth and welfare of the State”, he said and reiterated the State’s demand for transfer of Dulhasti HEP to Jammu and Kashmir. He said that State Government has already taken up this matter with the Union Government.
“On this occasion, I would like to press the demand of the people of the State before the UPA Chairperson and Prime Minister for transfer of Dulhasti HEP to the State”, he said while thanking them for their highest support to Jammu and Kashmir for its holistic development.
Omar Abdullah said that during the last 9 years UPA Government at the Centre under the Chairmanship of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi has extended extra-ordinary economic support to the State. He lauded the keenness of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi to see Jammu and Kashmir developing fast. He sought her support for harnessing the vast hydro electric potential of Jammu and Kashmir.
“At present whenever we feel financial requirements we come to the UPA Government led by Mrs. Sonia Gandhi for support. We get it freely for the keen interest of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi in the development of the State and its people”,he said adding that if a Government not friendly towards the State as UPA Government and Mrs. Sonia Gandhi are, be at the helm at the Centre, Jammu and Kashmir will be in difficulty. “As such, we seek highest economic support from the UPA Government to establish our own power projects and stand firm on economic ground”, he maintained.
The Chief Minister also sought Rs. 600-crore package for earthquake hit families of erstwhile Doda District and said that State Government has already submitted the proposal for this package to the Union Government. He also sought special component for land compensation under PMRP-2.
Omar Abdullah said that large number of houses have damaged in erstwhile Doda District in the devastating earthquake besides severe damage to public infrastructure. “We hope that the Union Government would come forward and help the affected families to reconstruct their houses”, he said that under MPRP, the State was given special component for acquisition of land to construct roads under PMGSY. “We request same component under PMRP-2”, he said.
Underlying the need for linking Doda, and Kishtwar districts with the Valley for economic welfare and round the year accessibility, Omar Abdullah sought Central funding for construction of Singhpora-Violo Tunnel. He said construction of this tunnel is of cherished desire of the people of the area and they are looking forward to the Union Government for financial support for the construction of this tunnel.
The Chief Minister remembered the sacrifices of soldiers who lost their lives in protecting the State and the Country, and to restore peace in Jammu and Kashmir. He showed solidarity with the forces lauding their bravery and highest degree of service for the Country and the people. While condemning the Monday’s terrorist attack on Army near Hyderpora Srinagar in which precious lives of soldiers were lost, the Chief Minister conveyed his sympathy to the bereaved families and the Army.
Omar Abdullah said that the efforts of the Union and State Governments have yielded positive results on peace and development fronts adding that peace is gradually rooting in the State. “Some elements inimical to peace don’t want the situation to become conducive and people live a normal life. They are always in search of occasions to disturb tranquillity”, he said and maintained that the people will isolate these elements and foil their attempts.
The Chief Minister referred to the benefits of Rs. 6000 crore 850 MW Ratli HEP, first of its kind in the Country to be constructed in the Private Sector, and said that the global bidding on tariff basis and participation of reputed power companies in the bidding has ensured transparency of the project being executed by the J&K State Power Development Corporation.
Speaking on the occasion, Union Minister for Health and Family Welfare, Ghulam Nabi Azad also highlighted the benefits of Ratli HEP and said that it would enhance the economic activities in the area.
Presenting resume of the backwardness of erstwhile Doda District, Ghulam Nabi Azad said that it was for this reason that during his tenure as Chief Minister of the State, Doda District was bifurcated into three districts under a historic decision. He also referred to the shortcomings of the area in connection with accessibility and said that he had got conducted the survey during his tenure in the area about the availability of road communication which was found to be only 5 percent and lowest in the Country.
“Though under PMGSY road connectivity of this area is being attended holistically, yet there is need of Rs. 750 crores to complete the ongoing road projects”, he said and sought the help of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi and Dr. Manmohan Singh in this regard. He also referred to the recent earthquake in Doda, Kishtwar and Ramban Districts and sought philanthropic package from the Union Government for the people of earthquake hit areas so that they could construct their houses before the onset of winter.
Ghulam Nabi Azad also highlighted the potential of Chenab Valley regarding generation of hydro electricity and referred to some projects in the area launched and inaugurated by Late Mrs. Indira Gandhi and UPA Chairperson Mrs. Sonia Gandhi.