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Editorial CAITLYN SAMPLEY AGGIE


Earlier this week, the Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, gave its approval to 850 MW Ratle Hydro Electric Project located on river Chenab, in Kishtwar district. It was a major decision to harness the hydro-electric potential of J&K with an investment of Rs 5281.94 crore to be carried out by a new Joint Venture Company incorporated between National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) and Jammu & Kashmir State Power Development Corporation Ltd (JKSPDC) with equity contribution of 51% and 49% respectively. J&K Lieutenant Governor, Manoj Sinha announced that the project was cleared by the Union Cabinet and termed it a historical decision. The project, if it is carried out well and if J&K benefits out of it, will make the Union Territory power surplus. According to the government, apart from making J&K energy sufficient, the project will create 4000 jobs, directly & indirectly, and will contribute to overall socio-economic development of the UT. With such major hydro-electric projects in J&K, one expects that the scenario of electricity will become much better in Jammu and Kashmir which has suffered in this aspect in the past. We all know what the status of power in the valley has been. Both urban and rural areas witness several hours of electricity curtailment, which worsens in winters. We hope that the ongoing and the new hydro-electric projects will first bridge this gap and ensure that the people of J&K receive uninterrupted electricity before the same is procured to be used in other states in India.  While development and attempts to unlock J&K’s potential are welcome, the primary goal of such projects must be to make J&K self-reliant in the energy sector. Apart from the 850 MW Ratle project, there are four more projects (Kirthai-II (930MW), Sawalkot (1,856MW), Uri-I (Stage-II) (240MW) and Dulhasti (Stage-II) (258MW) involving an investment of Rs.31,000 Cr that have been decided to be taken up for construction.  These projects together with the two ongoing projects of Pakaldul (1000 MW) and Kiru (624MW) on Chenab river and its tributaries will, according to the government, result in an investment of about Rs.52,821 Crores and create more than 12000 jobs in the Union Territory. The government plans to train the local people for which the Ministry of Power and Ministry of Skill Development propose to set up training centres near the project sites in collaboration with NHPC Ltd. If all these projects are successfully implemented and do benefit J&K the way they are expected to, the UT should see better days when it comes to electricity and power transmission.