Modi inaugurates Kashmir hydroelectric plant, Pakistan protests

SRINAGAR, India • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday inaugurated a hydroelectric power plant in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, prompting protest from neighbour Pakistan that says the project on a river flowing into Pakistan will disrupt water supplies.

The 330 megawatt Kishanganga hydropower station, work on which started in 2009, is one of the projects that India has fast-tracked in the volatile state under Mr Modi amid frosty ties between the nuclear-armed countries.

"This region can not only become self-sufficient in power but also produce for other regions of the country," Mr Modi said in the state's capital, Srinagar.

"Keeping that in mind we have been working on various projects here in the past four years."

Pakistan has opposed some of these projects, saying they violate a World Bank-mediated treaty on the sharing of the Indus river and its tributaries upon which 80 per cent of its irrigated agriculture depends.

"Pakistan is seriously concerned about the inauguration (of the Kishanganga plant)," its Foreign Ministry said on Friday.

"Pakistan believes that the inauguration of the project without the resolution of the dispute is tantamount to violation of the Indus Waters Treaty."

The Kishanganga project was delayed for several years as Pakistan dragged India to the International Court of Arbitration, which ruled in India's favour in 2013.

India has said the hydropower projects underway in Jammu and Kashmir are "run-of-the-river" schemes that use the river's flow and elevation to generate electricity rather than large reservoirs, and do not contravene the treaty.

Mr Modi, on a day-long visit to the state, also flagged off the construction of the 14km Zojila tunnel between the cities of Srinagar, Kargil, and Leh.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on May 20, 2018, with the headline 'Modi inaugurates Kashmir hydroelectric plant, Pakistan protests'. Print Edition | Subscribe