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Out of power, NC and Congress demand return of power projects

(25 Jan 2016)

Even as the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation not returning J&K’s power projects to the state has purportedly became one of the major hurdles in PDP and BJP recasting their alliance, National Conference and Congress, which did absolutely nothing to get back these projects during their tenure, too are now trying to grab some attention over the issue.

Senior NC leader and former Finance minister Abdul Rahim Rather says that the previous NC-Congress coalition formed a Cabinet Sub-Committee in 2011 on return of power projects and submitted the report to the Government of India.

“The state can buy back the projects and arrange money for it, but GoI should first agree that NHPC can return these projects. But so far the centre has not shown any indication of seriousness,” Rather was quoted as saying by local news agency KNS.

Senior Congress leader and former PHE minister Taj Mohiddin told also said that GoI was never serious to return these projects to the state.

“When I was PHE minister in NC-Congress government, I vehemently fought for return and buyback of these power projects, and actually had to pay a price for it,” Taj claimed, adding that the Central government of the time, which was headed by his own Congress party, “ did not take the issue seriously.”

He said that state has all legal documents and agreements of these power projects and can fight the case legally rather than make it a political point-scoring game.

Taj said that when Punjab can take their fight on Tawi River to Supreme Court, why can’t Jammu and Kashmir also do so?

“Our state can take legal course and approach the apex court of the country for return of power projects from Government of India,” he suggested.

Taj claimed that as per the Water Usage Law of the state, NHPC has deposited Rs 3600 crore in the state account. “So from this money, power projects can be bought back.”

The return of power projects has always been a contentious issue between the state and the GoI. All the major political parties and governments in the state have promised proverbial moon and stars about this issue during election campaigns, but none of the dispensations have, after wresting power, showed any serious resolve to get back these power projects.

In 2011, the then NC and Congress coalition formed a Cabinet Sub-Committee, headed by then Finance minister Abdul Rahim Rather with then PHE minister Taj Mohi-ud-Din, then Law minister Ali Mohammad Sagar and then Tourism and Culture minister Nawang Rigzin Jora as members, to study the terms and conditions of the agreements under which seven power projects in the state have been handed over to NHPC.

The committee had submitted a report to the GoI over buying-back these power projects from NHPC. This is what then Minister of State for Power, Viqar Rasool had informed the State Assembly in 2013.

Seven power projects in J&K including 790-MW Salal, 390-MW Dulhasti, 480-MW Uri-I and 120-MW Sewa –II are being controlled by the NHPC while the hydroelectric giant is also executing other 7-10 projects in the state including 280-MW Uri-II, 300-MW Kishanganga, 44-MW Chutak, and 45-MW Nimoo Bazgoo.

So far GoI and NHPC have categorically refused to return NHPC-held power projects to J&K.

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