SRINAGAR: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate on Saturday a hydroelectric power plant in the state of Jammu and Kashmir, prompting protest from neighbor 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 Modi amid frosty ties between the nuclear-armed countries.
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 percent of its irrigated agriculture depends.
“Pakistan is seriously concerned about the inauguration (of the Kishanganga plant),” its foreign ministry said in a statement 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 (IWT).”
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.
The two countries have fought three wars, two over Kashmir that they rule in part but claim in full.
India accuses Pakistan of promoting militancy in Kashmir, a charge that Islamabad denies.
Modi’s nationalist party has formed a government in Jammu and Kashmir for the first time, and the federal interior ministry announced on Wednesday it would suspend all operations against militants in the region during the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.
Modi, who is on a day-long visit to the state, will also flag off the construction of the 14 kilometer Zojila tunnel to provide all-weather connectivity between Srinagar, Kargil and Leh cities.
The government said it would be the longest road tunnel in India and Asia’s longest bidirectional tunnel, to be constructed at a cost of $1 billion. —Reuters