LAHORE  - The Punjab government has once again proposed the federal government to allow construction of a 44MW hydel power project on Chashma-Jhelum (CJ) Link Canal and to use Indus River water for cheap power generation to be supplied to the national grid to end energy crisis.

As both of the provinces Sindh and Punjab could not settle the issue, so, the sources said, the matter was forwarded to the NEPRA to determine whether it was a feasible project or not. The federal body (regulator) reportedly would take up the issue on March 26.

However, the Sindh government has declined the proposal, saying that the rivers have not that quantity of water to run hydel power houses on the CJ Link Canal.

The Punjab government has said that the province wanted to use its share given under IRSA accord that was enough to run a power house on the canal. The provincial government has said that the plan has been designed after studying the 25-year water flow history of the canal and claimed that the project would not affect water share of any province including that of Sindh.

An officer of the Punjab government said that the flow capacity of the CJ link canal was 21000 cusecs and its power house discharge design would be 10500 cusecs. The CJ was one of the link canals constructed under the World Bank-backed Indus Waters Treaty in 1960 between Pakistan and India to put western rivers water into the eastern rivers. The purpose was to irrigate agricultural lands of the southern Punjab.  Accordingly, Indus Basin Replacement Project comprising of two mega dams at Mangla and Tarbela, six new headworks and seven new link canals were completed during the period 1960-80. This project, the officer hoped, will be able to supply cheap energy to the national grid. Punjab government time and again had arranged meetings with the government of Sindh to discuss CJ link canal power house project and the Water Apportionment Accord 1991.

On the apprehensions of Sindh, he said, a committee was constituted to look into the issue of construction of power houses on the CJ and Tounsa-Punjnad (TP) link canals and to decide it but it could not settle the issue.  Sources in the Punjab government on Friday said that as the subject of power generation had been transferred to the provinces after Power Generation Policy 2002 to meet their energy needs, the provincial government wanted to construct power houses on the CJ link canal, TP and other canals. The Punjab government has sent a report to Islamabad after the feasibility study was completed, they held. The Punjab government’s consultant on water issues Mehmoodul Hasan Siddiqui confirmed that the construction of hydel power houses on the CJ and TP link canals would not obstruct water flow and Punjab government would utilize its own share for the power generation. He said that it was need of the hour to construct power houses and reservoirs preferably on the canals to divert the energy crisis and increasing need of irrigated waters.

As Punjab had decided to develop hydel sites available on its canals through public-private partnership, so it should be appreciated, the official said.