Kishanganga Hydroelectric Plant

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Kishanganga Dam
Kishanganga Hydroelectric Plant is located in Jammu and Kashmir
Kishanganga Hydroelectric Plant
Location of Kishanganga Dam in Jammu and Kashmir
Kishanganga Hydroelectric Plant is located in India
Kishanganga Hydroelectric Plant
Kishanganga Hydroelectric Plant (India)
Coordinates34°38′58″N 74°45′03″E / 34.64944°N 74.75083°E / 34.64944; 74.75083Coordinates: 34°38′58″N 74°45′03″E / 34.64944°N 74.75083°E / 34.64944; 74.75083
Construction began2007
Opening date19 May 2018
Construction costRs. 5783.17 crore ($864 million USD 2016)[1]
Owner(s)NHPC Limited
Dam and spillways
Type of damConcrete-face rock-fill
ImpoundsKishanganga (Neelum) River
Height37 m (121 ft)
Total capacity18,350,000 m3 (648,000,000 cu ft)
Kishanganga Hydroelectric Plant
Coordinates34°28′21″N 74°38′06″E / 34.47250°N 74.63500°E / 34.47250; 74.63500
Commission date19 May 2018
Hydraulic head646 m (2,119 ft)
Turbines3 x 110 MW Pelton-type
Installed capacity330 MW
Annual generation1,713 million kWh[2]

The Kishanganga Hydroelectric Plant is an $864 million run-of-the-river hydroelectric scheme in Jammu and Kashmir. It diverts water from the Kishanganga River (Neelum River) to a power plant in the Jhelum River basin. It is located 5 km (3 mi) north of Bandipore in Jammu and Kashmir and has an installed capacity of 330 MW.

Construction on the project began in 2007 and was expected to be complete in 2016. Construction on the dam was temporarily halted by the Hague's Permanent Court of Arbitration (CoA) in October 2011 due to Pakistan's protest of its effect on the flow of the Kishanganga River (called the Neelum River in Pakistan). In December 2013, the Court ruled that India could divert water for power generation while ensuring a minimum flow of 9 cumecs (m3/s) downstream to Pak Occupied Kashmir.[3][4]

All three units of 110 MW each were commissioned and synchronized with the electricity grid by 30 March 2018.[5] On 19 May 2018, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the project.[6]


Kishanganga Hydroelectric Plant is located in Kashmir
N–J project
N–J project
N–J project
N–J project
Kishenganga project
Kishenganga project
Kishenganga project
Kishenganga project
Location of the Neelum–Jhelum and Kishanganga projects in Kashmir

The west-flowing Jhelum River has two main tributaries, one being the Kishenganga River (Neelum River) in the north, at a higher elevation, and the other being the Jhelum river itself at a lower elevation. The two rivers originate in Indian-administered Kashmir and flow west into Pakistan-administered Kashmir, joining together near Muzaffarabad. This situation presents a unique opportunity of diverting waters from the Kishenganga river into the Jhelum river through a tunnel and using the consequent flows to generate power. Both India and Pakistan have explored the possibility and came up with respective projects: the Kishenganga project in Indian-administered Kashmir and the Neelum–Jhelum project in Pakistan-administered Kashmir.[7]

The Kishanganga project includes a 37 m (121 ft) tall concrete-face rock-fill dam which diverts a portion (58.4 m3/sec) of the Kishanganga River south through a 24 km (15 mi) tunnel. The tunnel is received by a surge chamber before sending water to the underground power house which contains 3 x 110 MW Pelton turbine-generators. After the power plant, water is discharged through a tail race channel into Bonar Nallah, another tributary of Jhelum (at 34°28′23″N 74°38′06″E / 34.473°N 74.635°E / 34.473; 74.635). After a short distance the Bonar Nallah drains into the Wular Lake, on the course of the Jhelum River. The drop in elevation from the dam to the power station provides a hydraulic head of 646 m (2,119 ft).[8]

The dam is equipped with a lower level orifice spillway to transfer flood water as well as silt downstream to protect the power generation reliability and the operating life of the project.[9] The arbitration award permitted the lower level orifice spillway as envisaged by India but prohibited the depletion of dead storage.

Indus waters dispute[edit]

The waters of the Jhelum river and its tributaries are allocated to Pakistan under the Indus Waters Treaty of 1960 (part of the three 'western rivers' – Indus, Jhelum and Chenab). However, India is allowed "non-consumptive" uses of the water such as power generation. Under the treaty, India is obliged to inform Pakistan of its intent to build a project six months prior to construction and take into account any concerns raised by the latter.

Pakistan strenuously objected to the project, claiming that India was not permitted under the Treaty to divert waters from one tributary to another.[10] Experts have disagreed with this contention. John Briscoe, a former World Bank water expert, points out that the "far-sighted Indian and Pakistani engineers" who drafted the treaty very well anticipated the situation.[11] The paragraph 15 of Annexure D states,

Where a Plant is located on a tributary of the Jhelum on which Pakistan has any agricultural use or hydroelectric use, the water released below the plant may be delivered, if necessary, into another tributary but only to the extent that the then existing agricultural use or hydroelectric use by Pakistan on the former tributary would not be adversely affected. (emphasis added)[11]

Nevertheless, Pakistan maintained that the diversion of water was prohibited. Asif H. Kazi, an influential water professional, declared, "the treaty absolutely forbids India from undertaking their project".[12]

Other than the legal objection, Pakistan also had concerns that the project would affect the flow of waters into Pakistan-administered Kashmir along the Kishanganga riverbed, impacting agriculture in "thousands of acres" as well as Pakistan's own planned Neelum–Jhelum project downstream.[10] Experts estimated that the impact on the Neelum–Jhelum project would be only about 10 percent,[13] because 70 percent of the waters of Kishanganga/Neelum are generated within Pakistan-administered Kashmir (after passing through the Kishanganga project)[14] and the project itself reduces the flow by only 21 to 27 percent.[13][note 1]

Unable to agree with India, Pakistan raised a 'dispute' under the Indus Waters Treaty, asking the World Bank to assemble a Court of Arbitration. This was the first time a Court of Arbitration (CoA) was assembled under the treaty.

Court of Arbitration[edit]

Judge Stephen Schwbel, chairman of the Court of Arbitration

A Court of Arbitration assembled under the Indus Water Treaty is expected to have seven members, two members each nominated by India and Pakistan, and three 'umpires' appointed by recognised authorities: the chairman appointed by the United Nations secretary-general and the World Bank president, a legal member/umpire appointed by US Chief Justice and Lord Chief Justice of England, an engineer member/umpire appointed by the President of MIT and the Rector of Imperial College, London.[16] A distinguished panel was thus assembled to hear the case.[17][note 2]

The Court began by rejecting Pakistan's arguments that the Kishanganga project violated the provisions of the treaty.[17] Then it considered whether the project satisfied the treaty's requirements for hydroelectric plants. Article III(2) obligates India to "let flow all the waters of Western Rivers" and "not permit any interference with the waters".[17] Pakistan argued that the project violated Annexure D of the treaty in three respects:[18]

  • by the permanent diversion of waters from one tributary to another,
  • by failure to conform to the requirements for a permitted run-of-the-river plant (by locating the plant along a diversion rather than at the dam site), and
  • by a diversion of waters between two tributaries that was not "necessary".

The court rejected all three objections by analysing the treaty and its negotiating history.[18]

The final question was whether the diversion met the requirement of protecting "the then existing agricultural use or hydro-electric use by Pakistan". The court addressed the issue with a sophisticated Vienna Convention analysis. It rejected Pakistan's "ambulatory" interpretation that all its future uses that might evolve over time were protected, and upheld India's interpretation that only those uses existing when Pakistan was given complete information about the project were protected.[18] The court determined that the Neelum–Jhelum project did not exist at the time the Kishenganga project "crystallized". Hence, it was not protected by the treaty provisions.[19]

The court upheld India's right to proceed with the Kishanganga project. But it also concluded that the treaty and the customary international law required India to ensure a minimum environmental flow along the Kishanganga/Neelum riverbed. After requesting additional data from India and Pakistan to determine the requirements for minimum flow, the court determined this to be 12 cumecs. Balancing this figure against India's right to the satisfactory operation of its project, it set down 9 cumecs as the required minimum flow to be ensured at all times.[20]

Drawdown flushing 

The CoA also ruled that India shall not lower/draw down the water level below the dead storage level for sediment flushing purpose.[21] CoA also stipulated in its verdict that India shall maintain minimum environmental flows in the Kishanganga river at the line of control point not be less than 9 cumecs continuously.[22] However, the minor differences between India and Pakistan over the project are still not settled.[23][24]


The Project was taken up by National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC). The construction was carried out by Hindustan Construction Company.[25]


In addition to generating 330 MW power, the diverted water from the Kishanganga River is used for the purpose of irrigation or to generate additional electricity from the downstream Lower Jhelum (105 MW), Uri (720 MW) and proposed Kohala (1124 MW) (Pakistan) hydel projects located on the Jhelum River.[26][27]

Future scope[edit]

It is stipulated by the CoA that India shall release 9 cumecs (nearly 283 million cubic meters in a year) for the purpose of environmental flows into the river to reach Pakistan territory.[22] Though there is no stipulation per IWT to maintain minimum environmental flows for a run of the river hydropower plant, CoA stipulated the same as the requirement under Customary international law.[20] The CoA verdict (page 43) also made provision to contest the minimum environmental flow requirement after 7 years of commissioning the Kishanganga power plant.[22] In case of storage works, Annexure E(20) of IWT clearly permits that the stored water can be used fully in any manner by India without the need to release water to the downstream for minimum environmental flows.[28]

There is nearly 50 square kilometers river catchment area below the Kishanganga dam before the river enters in to Pakistan. Downstream of the Kishanganga dam, the river is taking U-turn to enter in to the Pakistan territory. Nearly 100 million cubic meters capacity storage dam can be envisaged close to the LoC to impound all the inflows which can be further pumped through a 6 km long tunnel in to the upstream Kishanganga dam reservoir. The augmented water in to the Kishanganga dam reservoir is also diverted to the Jhelum river to generate additional power by the 330 MW power plant. As the pumping head (90 m) is not exceeding 15% of the 664 m head available for the power generation, the storage reservoir with pumping facility is highly economical to utilize all the waters of Kishanganga river flowing in India. Water pumping from the storage works/reservoir could be achieved by installing a pumped storage scheme to generate peaking and secondary power additionally.


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the Kishanganga power plant in the state of Jammu and Kashmir on 19 May 2018. The 330MW Kishanganga hydropower station, work on which started in 2009, is one of the projects that India has fast-tracked in the volatile state amid frosty ties between the nuclear-armed countries. "This region cannot only become self-sufficient in power but also produce for other regions of the country," Modi said in the state's capital, Srinagar. "Keeping that in mind we have been working on various projects here for the past four years." Pakistan has opposed some of these projects, saying they violate a World Bank-mediated treaty on the sharing of the Indus River and its tributaries upon which 80 percent of its irrigated agriculture depends.

Local Concerns[edit]

In 2013 local population of Bandipora protested against Hindustan Construction Company (HCC) executing the 330 MW Kishenganga hydroelectric project in the area. The protesters accused the company of causing severe damage to natural environment[29][30] and causing perilous pollution in the area. Following sustained protests by villagers in 2012 and 2013, the hydrology department of National Institute of Technology (NIT) conducted tests in the area and stated pollution had caused chemical disturbance in the water around the project site. The tests revealed high concentration of dissolved solids and unsafe alkaline levels in the water. “The polluted water can neither be used for the human consumption nor for washing purposes,” the report cautioned[29][30]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ When the Neelum–Jhelum project was completed in August 2018, it was reported that it was reported that it had attained its full generation capacity of 969 MW, and all units of the project were generating power to their maximum capacity.[15]
  2. ^ The chairman of the panel was Judge Stephen Schwebel, former president of the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Frankin Berman and Howard S. Wheater were the legal and engineer members respectively. India nominated Lucius Catflisch and Judge Peter Tomka, president of ICJ. Pakistan nominated Jan Paulsson and Judge Bruno Simma.[17]


  1. ^ "330 MW Kishanganga Power Project to be commissioned by Nov next". Daily Excelsior. 14 December 2015. Retrieved 13 March 2016. The sanctioned cost of project was Rs 3642.04 crore and revised cost has touched Rs 5783.17 crore
  2. ^ "CERC interim order Kishanganga HEP tariff (see last page)" (PDF). Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  3. ^ Omair Ahmad (15 June 2018). "The Indus Waters Treaty: caught between a dispute and a hard place". The Third Pole. Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  4. ^ Kishanganga project: Victory claims cloud final arbitration award, The Express Tribune, 22 December 2013.
  5. ^ "NHPC's Kishanganga project fully commissioned". Retrieved 2 April 2018.
  6. ^ "Narendra Modi inaugurates Kishanganga hydropower project in Kashmir".
  7. ^ Briscoe 2010, p. 29.
  8. ^ "Kishanganga". NHPC Limited. Retrieved 3 February 2019.
  9. ^ "CoA verdict dated 18 February 2013 on Kishanganga hydro power project (page 94)". Retrieved 1 October 2019.
  10. ^ a b Khan 2013, p. 215.
  11. ^ a b John Briscoe, Winning the battle but losing the war, The Hindu, 22 February 2013.
  12. ^ Kazi, Asif H. "Misusing the Indus Treaty", The News, 1 July 2011.
  13. ^ a b Tanaka 2012, pp. 556-557.
  14. ^ Ramaswamy R. Iyer, Arbitration & Kishenganga project, The Hindu 25 June 2010.
  15. ^ Neelum-Jhelum project attains full generation capacity of 969MW, The Express Tribune, 14 August 2018.
  16. ^ B. G. Verghese, Ideology Threatens Indus Treaty, The South Asian Journal, 25 March 2010.
  17. ^ a b c d Crook 2014, p. 309.
  18. ^ a b c Crook 2014, p. 310.
  19. ^ Crook 2014, p. 311.
  20. ^ a b Crook 2014, p. 312.
  21. ^ "The Indus Waters Treaty - Kishanganga verdict aftermath". Retrieved 20 January 2019.
  22. ^ a b c "Final award of CoA dated 20 December 2013". Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  23. ^ "Pause and effect: What newest twist in Indus Treaty tale means". Retrieved 20 June 2018.
  24. ^ "The Kishanganga conundrum". Retrieved 18 November 2018.
  25. ^ Nirupama Subramanian, Long objected by Pakistan, Kishanganga Hydro Electric Project set for inauguration next month, The Indian Express, 30 April 2018.
  26. ^ "GB: water conservation and preservation". Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  27. ^ "Lower Jhelum Hydroelectric Project JH01065". Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  28. ^ "The Indus Waters Treaty 1960 (with annexes)" (PDF). United Nations. Retrieved 30 October 2018.
  29. ^ a b "Hindustan construction Company Blasts Rules & Regulations". The Kashmir Scenario. 27 January 2013. Archived from the original on 13 August 2017.
  30. ^ a b Bandipora, Gurez residents face forced migration threat, Greater Kashmir, 14 March 215.


External links[edit]

Map all coordinates using: OpenStreetMap 
Download coordinates as: KML
  • Partial award, The Permanent Court of Arbitration, 18 February 2013
  • Final Award, The Permanent Court of Arbitration, 20 December 2013