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Alstom to build turbines for Kashmir dam despite Pakistan opposition

The Chenab River in Akhanoor, India.
The Chenab River in Akhanoor, India. PP Yoonus/Open access

French engineering giant Alstom is to build five turbines for a dam being built on the Chenab river in Indian-run Kashmir.The move is likely to anger Pakistan, which accuses India of cutting off its previous water supply from rivers that run from the Himalayas into Pakistani territory.

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The contract, signed with Indian company GVK and worth more than 100 million euros, is the largest of several hydroelectric projects in course in India's Jammu-Kashmir state, Alstom announced in a statement Thursday.

The Indus river and its tributaries
Indus river and tributaries

Alstom will provide four Francis 205-megawatt turbines and a 30-megawatt turbine, which will be built in Vadodara in the north Indian state of Gujarat.

But Pakistan, which experiences frequent water and power shortages, objects to the construction of the Ratle hydropower station, where the turbines will be situated, as well as to three other projects on the Chenab.

Islamabad claims that Delhi is cutting off its water supply from the Chenab, the Indus and other rivers that flow from the Himalaya mountains into the largely

Dossier: Pakistan General Election 2013

agricultural Punjab and Sindh provinces. 

It accuses Delhi of being in breach of the 1960 Indus Treaty, which was supposed to provide a mechanism for settling disputes between the two countries on the question.

The water question is one of several points of contention between the two countries, which have been to war four times and have a long-running dispute over control of Kashmir.

The Ratle project started in July and is due to be completed in 2017.

India 's demand for electricity is soaring and at present much of its power comes from coal. 

Thanks to the Himalayas, it has the fifth largest hydropower potential in the world, according to Alstom, and it is planning to build hundreds of dams.

Several of the projects have aroused opposition from environmental and citizens' rights groups.

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