Setting in motion India’s ambitious plan to utilise its share of water from western tributaries of the river Indus, an expert panel of the environment ministry has cleared the 800 MW Bursar hydroelectric project in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Bursar is one of the three projects on river Chenab and its tributary which India wants to complete in a time-bound manner within the Indus Water Treaty (IWT). Under the 1960 treaty with Pakistan, India is permitted to construct storage capacities on the western rivers up to 3.6 million acre feet (MAF) for various purpose including domestic use.
- The Bursar hydroelectric project is a storage project in which the flow of water can be regulated not only to the benefit of this project but all downstream projects such as Pakal Dul, DulHasti, Rattle, Baglihar, Sawalkotand Salal hydroelectric projects.
- Though the environment ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) for River Valley and Hydroelectric Projects had in October deferred granting clearance to the Bursar project, it had finally cleared the project without a site visit early this month.
- Since the visit was not possible before June 2018 due to poor weather conditions, the panel granted its green signal without the site visit – an indication of urgency to expedite the country’s ambitious project.
- The dam site of the project is located near village Pakal on river Marusudar which is one of the major tributary of river Chenab. The storage provided is intended to be used for additional power generation during lean flow months and releasing regulated flow in the downstream.
- Under the IWT, water of eastern rivers (Ravi, Beas and Sutlej) are allocated to India while the country is under obligation to let flow the water of the western rivers (Indus, Jhelum and Chenab) to Pakistan.
- India can, however, use the water from the western rivers for its domestic purposes, irrigation and generating hydro-electric power.