News — February 23, 2010

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by Qudrat Ullah

Now a day, the provinces of Sindh and Punjab are at odds over the issue of Chasma-Jhelum Canal Project which the government of Punjab is contemplating to set up at the Chasma Jhelum Canal with a total capacity of 40MW. While the province of Sindh is opposing the project fervidly, it is needed to kaleidoscopically evaluate the project to adjudge the real situation.

The country is facing acute shortage of energy which is badly affecting the economy in every sector particularly the industrial sector. Federal Government is taking a number of initiatives to meet the energy crisis and Punjab Government has also taken numerous steps to develop power projects in public as well as in private sector under the Punjab Power Generation Policy, 2006 (revised in 2009). Punjab, as a first step, decided to develop 48 preferred raw Hydel sites available on its canal falls through private sector. An advertisement in this regard was released in the national press. The site at the tail of Chashma Jhelum Canal, having pre-feasible potential of 40 MW, was also included in the said advertisement. M/S Haseeb Khan & Co. was selected and a letter of interest (LOI) was issued to the said company for carrying out the feasibility study of the site and the sponsor company completed the study on 25-10-2008. The main features of the project as bought out in the feasibility study are as under:

Location: CJ Link Canal Tail in District Khushab
Name of Canal: CJ link Canal
Design head: 13.86 m
Head Race: Brick lined
Design discharge of head race channel power house: 10500 cusecs
Capacity of power house: 44 MW
Plant factor of power house : 55%
Annual energy generation: 212.249 GWh
Tariff: 6.89 US cent/unit

After the approval of feasibility study by a panel of experts comprising of members from PPIB, WPPO/WAPDA and Irrigation and Power department Punjab, the sponsor company was asked to carry out power purchase agreement with the concerned DISCO and apply for power generation license and tariff determination to NEPRA.

During the public hearing for the grant of generation license to the said project by the NEPRA on 3/9/2009, Sindh province opposed the project on the pretext that said project is non-feasible and therefore should be scrapped.

Chasma- Jhelum canal off-takes from the river Indus at Chasma district Mianwali, Punjab. It was constructed in 1970 in consequences of Indus Waters Treaty signed with India in 1960 in order to meet the requirement of Pakistan canals off-taking from the three eastern rivers i.e., Ravi, Bias and Satluj. Consequently, Pakistan was required to construct a set of replacement works to transfer supplies from western rivers to eastern rivers which were earmarked for exclusive use by India. Accordingly, Indus Basin Replacement Project comprising of two mega dams at Mangla and Tarbela, six new headworks and seven new link canals were completed during the period 1960-1976.

Chasma Jhelum Link is one of the aforesaid Link Canals constructed to off-take from Chasma Barrage and transfer Tarbela/Indus River water to feed the Punjab Eastern River Canals. It has a full supply capacity of 21700 Cusses. Keeping in view the post accord water flow in CJ link authorized by IRSA, C-J is operated by WAPDA out of Punjab share allocated by IRSA.

Government of the Punjab, at all levels, has assured that project would be operated as per availability of water in the canal out of Punjab share allocated by IRSA. NEPRA has also conducted the hearing for tariff determination on 28-01-2010 and announced that generation license for the project has been approved. This project will be able to supply cheap renewable energy in the National Grid. This matter was also discussed in a meeting of Prime Minister of Pakistan with the Chief Minister on 18-02-2010. A delegation of Government of the Punjab visited Karachi on 20-02-2010 and had a detailed meeting with Government of Sindh to discuss Water Apportionment Accord 1991 and other issues. As a follow up of the said meeting, technical teams of irrigation Departments of the two provinces met in Lahore on 22nd February, 2010 wherein; Punjab Government maintained that Project was a private sector initiative and Government of Punjab was facilitating the investors like any other private sector project. The matter falls in the purview of NEPRA to determine whether it is feasible project or not. Government of Sindh has already filed a review petition against the approval of generation license and it is now for NEPRA to allow or disallow the project and whatever decision is taken by NEPRA, all concerned will have to abide by it.

The Punjab government has already conceded to the Sindh demand over the Chashma-Jhelum Link Canal, and voluntarily halved its share of water from the Indus zone through this vital link from Sunday. Reacting sharply to this, Opposition in the Punjab Assembly on Monday has lodged a strong gripe against, what they called “the provincial government’s voluntary surrender of its water share water from Chashma-Jhelum Link Canal to Sindh” as they alleged that Punjab has surrendered two thousand cusecs of water per day from Chashma canal to Sindh. Chief Minister Punjab Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif is in a quandary; he has a reputation for sacrificing for the other provinces they in turn have not reciprocated such sentiments.

However, Sindh’s feeding frenzy is without facts and historical data proves the case in Punjab’s favor. Sindh is failing to recognize Punjab’s aver that this channel is a perennial canal which provides water to Southern areas of the province and it will not in any way discourage Sindh’s water share. Moreover, the project will add 40 MW electricity to national grid station to overcome the power shortage. Sindhi nationalists should also bear in mind that it’s India which is blocking their legitimate share of water by illegally constructing 62 hydro power structures on the waters of Pakistan to turn Pakistan into a waterless retreat of hunger and famine. Punjab is main food-basked of the whole country and the water utilized by Punjabi farmers will benefit the whole country.