NHPC Projects In JK Illegal, Unconstitutional: Govt10 October 2011
Srinagar: Maintaining that almost all projects run by the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation in Jammu and Kashmir were “illegal” and “unconstitutional”, the government has set November 12 deadline for NHPC to complete the modalities to get license for operation. The government is also mulling to buy back Uri-I project, valued at Rs 2100 crore from NHPC within two years, which is expected to give the state an annual revenue of Rs 1000 to 1500 crore. Minister for PHE, Irrigation & Flood Control, Taj Mohiudin said after contacting NHPC to know the status of projects under them, it was found that the Corporation possessed no agreement, no lease agreement and even no paper signed by the J&K government. He was addressing a seminar titled ‘Exploitation of Water Resources by NHPC’ organized by J&K Citizens Welfare Council at S P College here Monday. “Without modalities and proper agreement with the State government, NHPC can’t get the license to operate. They have been given time till November 12 to fulfill all modalities,” the minister said. “If they fail to do so, ball will land in the court of Civil Society and the general public,” he said, adding the modalities for NHPC would be discussed by the Cabinet Sub Committee headed by Finance Minister, Abdur Rahim Rather. The PHE minister asserted that government intends to use water usage charges levied on power generating companies to strengthen power infrastructure in the State. He said as a first step the government intends to buy back Uri-I project, valued at Rs 2100 crore, from NHPC within two years which is expected to give the state an annual revenue of Rs 1000 to 1500 crore. ‘FAULT LIES WITH US’ Taj said the successive governments have been responsible for exploitation of state’s water resources. “I admit that fault lies with us. All successive governments are responsible for the exploitation of water resources collectively.” The PHE minister said despite putting in all efforts, the government failed to trace the lost cabinet order of 1975 regarding Salal project. Addressing the seminar, senior Peoples Democratic Party leader and former deputy chief minister, Muzaffar Hussain Beigh also termed the projects under NHPC as “illegal and unconstitutional”. He advocated that all power projects be handed over to Power Development Corporation and Power Trade Corporation (PTC). Beigh announced to be part of the Citizens Welfare Council that is spearheading the campaign to reclaim power projects from NHPC. WATER USAGE TAX The PHE minister said owing to the new water act, the government has been able to recover Rs 158 crores as water usage tax from the NHPC. “We have sent the second bill to the Corporation which is to the tune of Rs 711 crore,” Taj said, adding with the help of new water act, State’s annual income would increase by 25 per cent. BEIGH BLAMES NC Without naming the ruling National Conference and its patriarch, Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah, the senior PDP leader said everybody knows who was heading the State when power projects were handed over to NHPC. “In 1975, who was heading the State? Whose government was there in 1984?” Beigh said. “Seven projects were handed over to NHPC. That was a complete sell out. We have failed the people. We have let them down.” ‘HANDOVER PROJECTS TO PDC, PTC’ Quoting law, he said J&K’s land could not be transferred or leased to any company unless and until President of India requests for it. “There has to be an agreement with President’s name, otherwise the deal is illegal and unconstitutional,” Beigh said. Terming NHPC as East India Company, Beigh vociferously advocated that all projects be handed over to the PDC and PTC. “Let there be legislation in the assembly in this regard,” he said, stressing that he was not speaking on behalf of PDP, but as a common man. ‘568 CASES AGAINST NHPC’ “Our projects are under a corporation that has scores of complaints and cases against it across India,” Beigh said. Taj, however, intervened, saying, “There were 568 cases and complaints against NHPC across India.” Beigh said since Indus Water Treaty was international in nature and it can’t be debated or questioned. “What we have to do is that we have to see that what sort of compensation we can pitch for,” he said. ‘JK SIDELINED IN IWT DEAL’ The former deputy chief minister said it was unfortunate when IWT was signed, Prime Minister of India and Pakistan and the chief ministers of Indian Punjab and Pakistani Punjab signed the paper, “but nobody bothered to contact the Prime Minster of J&K”. “Most unfortunate part is our Prime Minister and other leadership remained as mute spectators,” Beigh said. ‘WHEN NHPC VIOLATED DEAL’ Dwelling in detail on the history of hydel projects in the State and the relevant correspondence State Government had with the Central PSU- NHPC, Taj said Salal hydel project was initially conceived by Maharaja Pratap Singh in 1922. “And in 1969, Centre offered to build the project on bus barr basis.” He said in 1975 the State went into an agreement with the Centre about the project execution which was to be built by the State. Taj cited some of the provisions therein, “Free 50 per cent power to J&K, remaining power sale to be shared equally between State and the Centre, all class 2nd and 3rd employees to be recruited from J&K etc.” “However, the said agreement was not adhered to by the company,” he added. ‘RAVI CANAL COMPLETION IN 3 YEARS’ Taj said the balance portion of Rawi canal upstream Basantpur in Kathua district would be completed in three years which would facilitate irrigation to 1.33 lac acres of land in the districts of Kathua, Samba, Jammu districts. This, he said, would usher another green revolution in the State making it a food sufficient State. ‘PUNJAB GOVT DENIES SHARE TO JK’ The Minister also dwelt in detail about the history and non-implementation of agreement on Ranjit Sagar Dam by Punjab Government. He said J&K has contributed 1.12 lakh acres of land to the dam including 22 villages of Kathua district, “but it is yet to get its share from it including 120 megawatts of balance power.” Taj said the presidential reference on the issue remained pending without a hearing for 30 years. “Since my taking over as the Minister in charge, I pursued the issue and now the State has framed its reply on it.” Among others, who spoke on the occasion included former president of FCIK, Shakeel Qalander, noted writer, Ghulam Nabi Khayal, former bureaucrat, Ghulam Nabi Naik, English professor, Hameeda Nayeem, noted columnist, Dr Javaid Iqbal, Principal S P School, Qurat ul Ain and Director Information, Farooq Renzushah. Speaking on the occasion, Director Information said talking about 16000 MWs and 20,000 MWs capacity of electricity generation were myths. “We can go beyond this and generate 50,000 MWs. But that needs a will and zeal,” Renzu said. He termed water as backbone and epitome of economy of J&K. “We are not able to construct the dams,” Renzu said, adding, “Let the day come when we would really see water of our State in hydro-dollars.” The seminar was moderated by journalist Bashir Asad.