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Chanderkote

Incredible Chanderkote

Baglihar Dam


Baglihar Dam is also called as Baglihar Hydroelectric Power Project is a run of the river power project on Chenab River. It lies in Northern Ramban district of Jammu and Kashmir.The suggestion for starting the project began in the year 1992 but its final approval was received in year 1996 and then in the year 1999 its construction began. The total amount of money invested in completing the dam was USD $1 billion and in two phases. The first phase finished in the year 2004 while second on 10 October 2008. According to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh this dam was for the country and its capacity was 450-MW

Design Controversy And Verdict

The construction of Baglihar Hydroelectric Power Project started in the year 1999 but Pakistan alleged that its design was against Indus Water Treaty (full text) of 1960. The treaty provided the right to India on three eastern rivers together with Pakistan having the control on the western rivers inclusive of Chenab River. Even though India had full right to start any kind of power generation projects but with restricted reservoir capacity as well as required flow control.  With such permission India planned many such projects but Pakistan was against all of them. Therefore when it was the time for Baglihar and Kishanganga Hydroelectric Plants the same problem came again. It said that India was offered more liabilities regarding the power generation, blocking the flow of river etc thus providing a strong background during wars.
So to combat such issues Pakistan and India came forward to talk on this issue during 1999-2004 but there was no final decision which could be taken. As all the talks between the two countries gave no results it final ended in January 18, 2005 and Pakistan posed six objections to the World Bank, a broker and signatory of Indus Water Treaty. During April 2005 World Bank found that Pakistan claim as a ‘Difference’, a classification between the less serious ‘Question’ and more serious ‘Dispute’. So Professor Raymond Lafitte and a Swedish civil engineer were appointed in May 2005 to solve the confusion.


After studying the case for a long time he finally gave his conclusion February 12, 2007 with poundage capacity to be lowered to 13.5% while the height of the dam should be 1.5 meter less but the power intake tunnel could be increased to 3 meters more. In this way the design finally fulfilled all the parameters and it was now according to the treaty. Lafitte did not other consider other objections like height and spillway control which were raised by Pakistan. Even India had already asked Pakistan to consider these minor requirements so that the work could be started. According to Indus Waters Treaty of 1960, the Indus River is divided between India and Pakistan in such a way that India cannot interfere in the flow of river or regarding the generation of electricity.  But the main problem was that if India constructed any dam on the river its permission couldn’t be granted in any case. Though both the countries were happy with the final decision but Pakistan government was not at all satisfied.

In this way India got the right to construct 'gated spillways' through the Indus water treaty of 1960. According to the pondage demand of 37,500,000 cubic meters from India, about 32,580,000 cubic metres was already sanctioned. But the height had to be reduced from 4.5 m to 3.0 m

Thus finally the issue between India and Pakistan can to an end on June 1, 2010 and work of Baglihar dam started. The other countries did not raise any kind of issue while the work proceeded smoothly and dam getting completed in two phases. The end result could only be possible due to the talks of Permanent Indus Commissioners of India as well as Pakistan. This was just to keep the issue low and began the construction of the dam which was most important.


Brief Background


Baglihar Hydroelectric Power Project is situated close to Pakistan territory at a distance of 120 km. The entire project is divided into two stages such that each stage is of 450 MW. Powerhouse for the sate second will be in the caverns and is the extended version of the first stage. The capacity of the reservoir is 15 MCM while it uses headrace tunnels which divert the water at the rate of 430 cubic metres per second. For this a MOU between Jaiprakash Industries and SNC-Lavalin of Canada was signed in April 1999. The height of the dam is 144.5 m and the length of the tunnel is 2.1 km and extends to the power station. It took around 5 years for the project to be completed and its total cost was around Rs 3495 crores. Later on J&K state cabinet in Nov 2002 stated that there was no such planning regarding its finances therefore its cost would go up to Rs 4600 crores, in this way the installation cost was Rs 10.22 crores per MW. During the second phase that is in Jan 2003, Rs 1750 crores more were spent on 450 MW and were commissioned in Oct 2006. Thus on March 25, 2003 a commission was also set up so that all the norms could be followed regarding the Baglihar dam.

According to Jammu and Kashmir Government, government of J & K has full control over the use of rivers and whatever dispute it had was solved on Jan 18, 2005 thus fulfilling the conditions of Indus Waters Treaty. Many a times, Pakistan has created interference and pursued India to put a stop on the construction of Baglihar dam. WB has also created a list which focuses on the three water disputes between India and Pakistan and has asked for expert’s advice. These experts are none other but belong to Switzerland, Australia and Brazil.

To resolve the matter, Prof Raymond Laffitte was charged as a NE by the World Bank after it had consulted the same with India and Pakistan under IWT. The first meeting took place in Paris on June 9-10. Prof Raymond Laffitte was serving as a professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne and also being the chairman of the committee on governance of dam projects of the International Commission on Large Dams. He has also been an active member of the advisory committee to the president of ICOLD and Dam Safety Committee of ICOLD.  ICOLD usually supports the construction of large dams and therefore Prof Raymond Laffitte also wanted the same.

There are a few issues which are a question of worry.


Hydrologic Viability


Is 900 MW Baglihar practically possible or not? For how many days it is possible to generate electricity at a particular rate? It requires around 860 cumecs of water but because the flow level of the river Chenab reduces therefore it can drop by 50 cumecs too. The current project 690 MW Salal project on Chenab 480 MW Uri HEP as well as Jhelum shows that during the winters lesser power is generated but its requirement is much more in Jammu and Kashmir.

Siltation

River Chenab has the maximum silt as compared to the other rivers due to which frequent landslides take place which increase the amount of silt by leaps and bounds. There are so many projects which are being carried on this river and also including Baglihar Hydroelectric Power Project as well as Dulhasti which need consideration. Even Sawalkote is one of the rivers with too much of silt and is a question of worry. The increased quantity of silt has affected the rock quality which has deteriorated from being poor to very poor. Higher the quantity of the silt, lesser will be the chances to lead a normal life.

Cost

When it comes to the cost factor of Baglihar Hydroelectric Power Project, 450 MW costs around Rs 4000 crores (Rs 2700 crores have already been spent) which is definitely high. It means that the cost involved per MW is around Rs 8.89 crores which is high as compared to the normal price rate of 5-6 crore MW. Cost is certainly a question to consider as according to the current prices the overall cost will go up. This will also increase the cost of electricity much above Rs 5 per unit. When the people around the dam are not able to Rs 2 per unit, how is it possible for them to pay such a huge amount. It is therefore not viable to invest so muchmoney in a project whose benefits cannot be enjoyed by the people. Thus the project was divided into two stages with lesser MW in first stage.


Attractions


Baglihar dam and its surroundings are known its natural beauty with Doda being poular for its clad peaks. You can enjoy adventurous trekking to the various routes like Zumum PalmarVasukinag, Sarthal, Lal Draman, Vasukinag, Gupt Ganga, Kailash Yatra, Machail and Reushra. You can explore the thick and dense hilly areas of Doda district which is definitely an unforgettable experience for the visitors. The natural beauty is must to be explored when you come here.

The climate around Doda is very pleasant and you will have great fun with trekking too. From the simple to tough trekking you will get everything that you want.