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Salal hydro power project, Jammu & Kashmir, India


Salal Hydroelectric Project is built on river Chenab near Reasi in Udhampur district of Jammu &Kashmir in India. Although the plan for a water reservoir was originally conceived in pre independent India, the planning of the project started in 1960s. The actual construction of the dam started in 1970s. The design of the project laid out a two-stage powerhouse with a total installed capacity of 690 MW (345 MW each) [1] Salal dam is considered important for Punjab province of both India and Pakistan for agricultural purpose. India’s plan to construct a dam on Chenab River was first objected by Pakistan in 1974. Pakistan argued that the construction of the dam did not follow the Indus Water Treaty signed between India and Pakistan in 1960 [3]. Under the terms and conditions of the Treaty, India submitted its plan to the ‘Permanent Indus Commission’ for approval in 1968. However, looking at the Pakistan’s objection, India agreed to make some changes in the design of the dam. India lowered the height of the dam that was originally proposed and also close the diversion canal permanently. This conflict was amicably settled after the signing of Indus Waters Treaty. The resolution of this dispute was welcomed by both the countries and is considered as successful diplomacy over water sharing between Pakistan and India [2, 3].

However, Pakistan has raised objections from time to time for India’s building of dams on Pakistani rivers (or rivers eventually flowing in Pakistani territory), including Salal dam. Pakistan is concerned about the fact that the dams built on common rivers in Indian side will perhaps cause major water shortages in Pakistan in future [4].

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Salal hydro power project, Jammu & Kashmir, India
State or province:Jammu and Kashmir
Location of conflict:Salal; District- Reasi
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Water Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Dams and water distribution conflicts
Specific commodities:Water

Project Details and Actors

Project details

Salal project was conceived in the year 1920. It is a rock-fill and concrete dam located in the Reasi district of Jammu and Kashmir on the river Chenab. Length of Dam is 487 meter and height is 113 meter. Total volume content of the dam is 9450 TMC and 22477 cumec Spillway capacities [6].

The Project was constructed in two stages. In Stage-I of 345 MW (115X3) and Stage-II of 345 MW (115X3) hydro electric generation capacity of 690-MW was achieved [7].

Type of populationRural
Start of the conflict:1968
Company names or state enterprises:National Hydroelectric Power Corporation of India (NHPC) from India
Relevant government actors:Government of India, Government of Pakistan
International and Finance InstitutionsThe World Bank (WB) from United States of America

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stageLATENT (no visible resistance)
Groups mobilizing:Government of Pakistan
Forms of mobilization:Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Socio-economical ImpactsPotential: Displacement, Loss of landscape/sense of place


Project StatusIn operation
Conflict outcome / response:Technical solutions to improve resource supply/quality/distribution
Under negotiation
Fostering a culture of peace
Application of existing regulations
Development of alternatives:The Indus Water Treaty (IWT) is a water-sharing treaty signed between India and Pakistan in 1960, mediated by World Bank. The treaty was signed between the first prime minister of India, Jawaharlal Nehru, and Pakistan President Muhammad Ayub Khan. According to the agreement, a commission was set up to settle any disputes arising over allocation of river waters. The regular interaction and discussion at various level of bureaucracy by the Indus Water Commission team from Pakistan and India will help to dispel any apprehensions about violation of provisions of Indus Water Treaty (IWT) [5]
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:Not Sure
Briefly explain:According to Pakistan, India is violating Indus Water Treaty by obstructing natural flow of water of Pakistan. Pakistan feared that this will may lead to severe water crisis in Pakistan in future.
Recently, a Pakistani team has visited Salal hydro power project in February 2011 and held discussions with Indian officials. Pakistani officials raised concern about the less discharge of water from the dam. Indian counterpart explained that the less flow of water is due to the freezing of water in the upper ridges during winter seasons causes a decrease in water level in River Chenab. However, the flow of water increases during summer due to melting of snow in upper reaches of Kishtwar and Himachal Pradesh [5].

Sources & Materials

Juridical relevant texts related to the conflict (laws, legislations, EIAs, etc)

[3] Brief Provisions Of Indus Waters Treaty 1960

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

Saha, G. P., Salal Hydroelectric Project, Jammu and Kashmir, Structural Engineering International, Volume 1, Number 3, 1 August 1991, pp. 12-13(2)

[2] Harnessing the Indus Waters: Perspectives from Pakistan by Nausheen Wasi In India-Pakistan Dialogue On Conflict Resolution And Peace Building Ipcs Issue Brief 128

[4] Pak accuses India of violating Indus Water Treaty Agreement

[5] Pak team inspects Salal hydro power project in Reasi

[6] Salal (Rockfill And Concrete Dam) D03068

[7] Salal

[1] Power Projects in Jammu & Kashmir: Controversy, Law and Justice by Zubair Ahmad Dar LIDS Working Papers 2011-2012, Harvard Law and International Development Society , Series Editors: Madison Condon, Joshua Gardner, and Erum Sattar

Meta information

Contributor:Swapan Kumar Patra
Last update18/08/2019