Fresh bid to end impasse over Pancheshwar dam

In a major step forward to break the deadlock over construction of the multipurpose 6000-MW Pancheshwar dam on the Sarada river (Mahakali in Nepal) on the border, New Delhi and Kathmandu will discuss the logistics of setting up a Pancheshwar Development Authority at the first meeting of the Joint Ministerial Commission on Water Resources here on Wednesday.

Setting up of the Authority has been cleared in India at the topmost government level.

The Authority is proposed to oversee the implementation of the Rs. 30,000-crore mega project, which has not moved beyond the formulation of the Detailed Project Report (DPR) in the last few years. It is likely to be headed by the Water Resources Secretaries on either side. The two sides will discuss the ‘structure' and the terms of reference of the body.

According to political sources, the major concern is for the project to take off. The project is central to the bilateral treaty on Integrated Development of the Mahakali signed in 1996.

The Pancheshwar project, envisaged on the Uttarakhand-Nepal border, will bring irrigation and flood control benefits to Uttarakhand and Bihar and power to the northern grid.

The proposal is for India and Nepal to share the cost and benefits equally. However, Kathmandu wants New Delhi to take on a larger financial share.

Wednesday's meeting, to be chaired jointly by Water Resources Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal and Nepalese Minister for Energy Posta Bahadur Bogati, will also discuss the outstanding issue of DPR of the Saptakosi High Dam in Nepal meant to bring about a permanent solution to floods in the Kosi and to stabilise the benefits from the Kosi barrage.

For India, maintenance and strengthening of the embankment of the flood-prone Gandak and Kosi rivers are also important and the issue would be discussed at the meeting.

Flood protection of the embankments has to be undertaken by both Nepal and India (the Bihar and Uttar Pradesh governments).

Mega project, on the border, will bring irrigation to Uttarakhand and Bihar, and power to northern grid

Strengthening embankment of flood-prone Gandak, Kosi is important to India