India Plans to Fast-Track Hydro Projects in Kashmir Region

  • Deputy chief minister says hydro power could quintuple
  • Pakistan has previously expressed concern on water shortages

India plans to as much as quintuple development of hydroelectric power in Jammu and Kashmir, a northern state that has one of the world’s most militarized borders and faces water disputes.

The local government is planning to add more than 5,000 megawatts of power using the flow of its rivers within the next five to six years, according to Nirmal Kumar Singh, the state’s deputy chief minister and minister for the power-development department.

Nirmal Kumar Singh

Photographer: Dhiraj Singh/Bloomberg

While neighboring Pakistan has expressed concerns about potential water shortages that might result, Singh said he doesn’t expect the hydro plans to create friction between the two nuclear-armed powers.

“There were a lot of bottlenecks which we have cleared now,” Singh said last week in an interview at his residence in Jammu, the winter capital of the state. “I don’t see a reason for dispute with Pakistan on these projects.”

Pakistan has already raised objections to some of the plans, citing water treaties between the two countries. It has plans to build more than 12 hydro-power dams of its own in the part of the Kashmir region that it controls.

Jammu and Kashmir had a 20 percent shortage in electricity supplies in the seven months ended Oct. 31, compared with a national average of 0.7 percent, according to data from the power ministry. 

The shortages could be eased by hydro projects, which have the potential to generate as much as 20,000 megawatts and can be set up on rivers running through the region’s mountainous terrain, Singh said. An additional 7,000 megawatts could be generated through solar projects in the desert of the Ladakh region, he said.

The state’s government has put several hydro projects on a fast track after some had been stalled for years, according to Singh. Jammu and Kashmir already generates about 1,200 megawatts of hydro power, he said.

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