After a long wait, the J&K Government is all set to engage an international consultancy for quantifying the losses suffered by the State on account of Indus Water Treaty (IWT).
The State Power Development Corporation is finalizing the process to award the contract to Denmark-based Danish Hydraulic Institute (DHI), the lone bidder which had shown willingness to take up the contract in 2015.
"The PDC received a single bid and on its evaluation by the bid evaluation committee, the bidder M/S DHI was found technically responsive. The matter has been subsequently approved by the Contract Committee of PDC and also by the Management and Finance Committee," reads Minister for Power, Nirmal Singh's reply to a question in demand of grants for Power Development Department which were passed by the Assembly on Saturday.
"The Contract shall be awarded after approval by the PDC's Board of Directors (BoD)," reads the Minister's reply.
A senior official said the BoD which is headed by the chief minister would meet soon after the Budget session is over. "The matter will come up for the discussion there," he said.
In 2011, the PDC had invited the bid, for the fourth time following a poor response, and accordingly M/s Halcrow Consulting India Ltd, a part of M/s Halcrow Group of UK was picked up for getting the quantification of the losses done. However, the consultancy later retracted, citing expiry of the bid validity.
The Government doesn't have any figures, based on any scientific research, about the losses suffered by the State on account of the IWT, though rough estimates peg these between Rs 18,000 crore to Rs 20,000 crore.
The J&K government had, for the first time, floated the idea to quantify the IWT losses in 2009. The then Government headed by former Chief Minister Omar Abdullah had said it would approach the Government of India to seek compensation based on the study.
"We hope the Government shows seriousness this time and awards the contract without further delay," said a PDC official.
He said in 2013, the Government sat over the decision to hire Halcrow for more than a year, which finally resulted in the consultancy not agreeing to take up the work owing to financial issues.
However, this time, as per the Minister's reply, the DHI has agreed to undertake the study at the cost of Rs 1.89 crore, approved by the cabinet, against their offered cost of Rs 2.35 crore including taxes and duties.
The IWT is a water sharing arrangement between India and Pakistan which was brokered by the World Bank in 1960. Under the treaty, India has exclusive rights over three major eastern rivers—Ravi, Beas and Sutlej—before they enter Pakistan while as the Pakistan has rights over three western rivers– Indus, Jhelum and Chenab— which flow through J&K. The treaty puts a rider on exploitation of water from rivers flowing to Pakistan. It makes it obligatory on J&K to make limited withdrawals from rivers flowing to Pakistan for domestic and agricultural use and for limited hydropower generation.
J&K can only set up limited storage for hydropower and irrigation as per the treaty which has withstood two wars between India and Pakistan in 1965 and 1971 and some minor conflicts between the two neighboring countries.