Salal Dam Safety thrown to the Winds || LIVE IMAGE


Salal Dam Safety has started giving anxiety moments these days. Much has been left to be desired in the broader sense about its security.  A rock-filled Dam is a run-of-the-river scheme over River Chenab to generate hydroelectricity. Because poundage water is not allowed to generate electricity under the Indus Water treaty. That necessitated to construct a diversion barrier to channelize its flow. At a spot called Dhiyangarh of Salal village in Reasi district. Diversion of the normal flow produced backlash  on the River Chenab along with its two tributaries that of Ans and Rud.

Thereby a   man made reservoir    emerged with a poundage capacity  of 284 million gallons tentatively.  Submerged dozens of thickly habitat villages, communication links, and bridges etc. Thereby deprived the habitants from their the main  source of livelihoods .That had been farming and the allied related pursuits   now reduced to abject poverty.  Water sheet thus created is spread over approximately 9.35 Sq kms. Which goes  right up to  Kabbi, where highest Railway ridge in under completion, 15 kms upstream of Chenab  and on Ans river  up  to   Nalah Such and Narloo,8 kms  from  from Dam site .It is not the Dam structure  only  but the entire area  that is a highly insurgent prone ,a  soft target  to strike at will. 

Those who want trouble and have proved its capability to strike at will .wherever it serves the purpose. It is not an ordinary Dam from a security point of view. Its security cannot be taken into account like any other dams in the country. Because of the fact this area has been militancy prone for three decades without any respite. Dam along with the district authorities take matters in light vein, on presumption that damage to the dam shall affect Pakistan too because water shall flow down in their area. But ignore the basic fact that the   Pakistanis militancy acts are only to highlight their point of view, strike where it suits them. This factor cannot be   brushed aside and ignored.

Inhabitants around Dam at times try to find rationale behind the lackadaisical approach adopted by them. Lending a deaf ear has become its standard response to the repeated pleadings in this regard. Bells   of warning ring all the time loud and clear about its safety. Which every one in the area hears except those at the helm of affairs. Dam has  an acquired land of about 50 Sq kms  not  marked  with the  Boundary pillars. 

Apart from the two number Dams structures there are other vital infrastructures like roads, bridges, housing colonies  etc. Safety is required in its totality, instead loopholes  be plugged; the doors are thrown wide open from all sides to ingress.

Authorities  both at district level and  that of the Dam are well aware that  it rests on highly explosive militancy powder keg .Simmering all the times  danger clouds hovering    that hat does not call for   lower guards. Army is still deployed at many places on security feed backs that is the cause of anxiety. 

Till the time the government declares it an insurgency free area and withdraws Armed Forces Special powers. Charged situation cannot be over ruled altogether it may not rebound. Caution is the better part of the valour; this element is conspicuously missing. This writer has been witness of its construction, from initial stages till its commissioning and those horrible days of militancy, in the area. Where death and survival was just a breaths away.

The Dam and its catchment area nestled in the lap of mountains, highly charged  from  the security point of view. Referred to as Thekrakote- Gulagarh- Gool bowl.  On western side it  borders  Rajouri  where from a number of militancy infiltration routes  starts  and  passes through the entire belt of the Thakerakote,Makhidar ,Panjmal Belt up to kandi  Kotranka for onward targets . Pir Panchal range  on Northern side Northern side  has another route through ,  Nalah Shergarhi,Chessana, Gulagarh belt, Eastern  side is Gool belt  that  stretches up to Sumbarh, again a highly volatile sector and the southern side is Reasi plains. 

This bowl Salal Dam falls  in this bowl has witnessed one of worst gruesome militancy incidents. An open an open book for anyone who wants to read it and learn lessons, contains  ample references  in detail to analyses  .That may help any one   to avoid to pit falls that had been the cause of insurgency here. 

No doubt a quantum jump has been achieved, in the surveillance system, enemy don’t lag behind. This time drones are brought to play mischief. Scenario then brought heavy deployment of Army  at vulnerable places and Paramilitary forces. Such as at Chankah, Dharmari, Mahore ,Bagga, Sungri, Gool etc, .

To  supplement the Army established another Division called Uniform Division at Reasi. Besides security cover was provided from Rajoui, and Raman sector to contain and eliminate this menace. Still from time to time it has been a regular feature to catch sleeper cells, over ground networks of the militants, money funding, beside   laying hand of arms catches of huge quantities. Dam area   witness horrifying incidents of militancy, all around it, hundreds innocent old infirm women youth child, feeding mothers  has been victim, many  incapacitated due to injuries , others lifelong of pain of those who  were stanched from them  for no fault of their

Area has seen migration of a large number of families and not returned till this date, The 1998 Prankote massacre  killing of 26 Hindus in the villages of Prankote  on 17 April 1998 here in this area. Where as a Home minister Sh L.K.Advani ji visited the spot is one of the many incidents of massacre in the area.

Meanwhile another latest threat has been brought in the State Government apparatus itself here. Taking advantage of  Salal  Dam authority which focuses   on power generation to achieve the target. A nexus developed over the years between the mining Mafia and the caucus of the Departments, from the Revenue, Mining, Police, Pollution Control Board, Forests and the Panches . 

That function in a well calibrated manner; every part of it sufficiently oiled to run smoothly and above all without making any sort of noise. It requires mention that for the last three years    consistent representations are being made by the locals whose land has been acquired by the Dam authority.  And produced due revenue records to substantiate their view point. Apart from it also stressed about sensitiveness of the area .

Where no laxity of any kind is warranted, Union Territory administration, despite valid protests, has opened the flood gates for mining without permission from the competent authority. The area belongs to the Salal Dam authority. it is with the ministry of power,  authorised by the Parliament  to grant permission. 

The General Manager NHPC Ltd Jyoutipuram  has approached number of times the  District Development Commissioner Reasi for the proper Nishani Dehi of the land that  belongs to it. Besides Dr Jatendra Singh MOS who represent this area in the Parliament, also directed District Development Commissioner and Senior Supertiendent of Police, Reasi at Katra  on 21 June 2021 to demarcate the land that belongs to the Salal Dam and remove all kind of illegal activities forthwith .Point arises what makes the distinct authority not to go for demarcation of the land acquired by the Salal Dam. 

The revenue land records of the Salal Dam stands fudged as alleged at the district level. Thereby manipulated unless proven wrong under a scheme of things entered it as a State land. On the basis of it, a few spots were marked  on the behest of the Mafia for the extraction of Sand, Bajri etc. From the river Chenab and Ans these spots fall very much under the jurisdiction of the Salal Dam authority as per authentic records revenue records. Arbitrarily  a number of Blocks  has been put were put to auction and allotted ignoring the Enforcement & Monitoring  Guidelines for Sand Mining issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, January 2020. 

Which has compounded  the avoidable danger manifold to its safety. Undesirable antisocial elements has been provided an opportunity and reason to be in the area without any kind of restriction at the cost of the Safety around. Dam authority  implore upon the district administration to clear as such illegal mining activities .

Because  as per records no such permission has been given to anyone beside has no such authority to grant it. National interests it appears are being sacrificed the altar of Personal benefits.

 Bushan Parimoo
(The writer is a Jammu based environmentalist and a regular contributor to this Website .)
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July 6, 2021 at 2:22 PM ×

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