The Captain Amarinder Singh led Punjab Government on Wednesday resumed construction work on the prestigious Shahpurkandi dam project, after due assessment on the ground with respect to labour availability at the site and Covid-19 safety precautions.
The work, which had been suspended due to the nationwide lockdown, resumed in the presence of A. Venu Prasad, Principal Secretary, Water Resources Department Punjab, who guided the resumption process on the directives of Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh.
The national level project, being constructed on river Ravi by the Punjab Government at an estimated cost of Rs 2700 crore, will reduce the outflow of the river water to Pakistan, while benefitting both Punjab and Jammu & Kashmir, once it is completed.
According to an official spokesperson, the Chief Minister and Minister of Water Resources Sukhbinder Singh Sarkaria had directed the District Administration, Pathankot, to examine the feasibility of restarting of the constructional activity on the project, after the Ministry of Home Affairs, GoI issued guidelines on April 15, allowing resumption of construction activities on irrigation projects beyond municipal limits, provided the site did not fall under a containment zone.
The District Administration immediately swung into action and constituted a three-member team of officers to examine the situation. The team had visited the site on Tuesday, and found it feasible to resume work since the labour involved in the construction stayed at site sheds, in the confined area, with the single entry point duly barricaded. The team further found that the agency – Soma- Bureya JV – was taking adequate measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Based on the inputs of the team, the District Administration gave the go-ahead for resumption of construction after taking assurance from the agency, in the form of an undertaking, that they will adhere to the guidelines issues with respect to Covid.
Giving details of the project, the spokesperson said that of the total estimated balance cost as on 2014, Rs 1,408 crore would be spent on the power component, with 100 per cent share of the Punjab government. A sum of Rs 685 crore would be spent on the irrigation component, with a share of Rs 485 crore to be contributed by the central government and Rs 179.28 crore by the state government.
On completion, the project will generate 206 MW of power, besides having the potential to irrigate 5,000 hectares of land in Punjab and 32,000 hectares of land in Jammu and Kashmir’s Sambha and Kathua districts.
The Shahpurkandi Dam Project will provide a balancing reservoir to ensure uniform water supply takes to canal system, taking off from Madhopur Headworks. It will also ensure optimum power benefits from Ranjit Sagar Dam by using it as a peaking station. Asserting that the border belt up to Shahpurkandi would be one of the most prominent tourist destinations, the Water Resources Minister said the project would also give impetus to tourism, besides supplementing the income of residents in the region, both in Punjab and J&K.