No Progress On Buying Back Salal, Uri-1
Even as J&K has ambitiously set out to buy back two hydropower projects- Salal and Uri-1 – from Government of India, the progress on the issue in last two years can be gauged from the fact that the State has even failed to get response to its letters from National Hydroelectric Power Corporation and Power Ministry. JK had sent the communications seeking preliminary information on the subject like present cost of the two projects.
The non-seriousness shown by the State Government coupled with stubbornness of NHPC and Power Ministry has hit the plans to buy back the projects and recover the losses suffered by JK on account of violation of agreements by the Corporation.
Not to talk of formally initiating the matter with Government of India, the State’s Power Development Corporation and a legal panel constituted by the Government are still stuck in the process of working out modalities.
Sources in PDC told Greater Kashmir that they have sent repeated requests to NHPC over past few months to share certain details with them in order to work out the present cost of the projects. “But they have not responded to our requests,” they said, adding the process has come to a halt due to NHPC’s obstinacy.
When contacted, Advocate General MI Qadri said JK had sought copies of agreements, if any, of the projects from the Union Power Ministry. “On our request, the PDD had sought the details from the ministry but they did not respond at all,” he said, adding that they were exploring other options to get the information from the Ministry.
After facing pressure from the civil society in the wake of documentary evidence suggesting violation of agreements by NHPC, the JK Government constituted a Cabinet Sub-committee in May 2011.
The CSC headed by Finance Minister Abdur Rahim Rather and comprising Taj Mohiuddin, Ali Muhammad Sagar and Nawang Rigzin Jora submitted its report in January 2012, strongly recommending that Salal and Uri-1 should be bought back at depreciated cost of Rs 2566 crore. At the same time, the panel had claimed that Jammu and Kashmir had made excess payment of Rs 2340 crore on power purchases from NHPC-run Salal project.
On February 15, 2012, the State Cabinet approved the report in full and directed the Power Development Corporation to initiate proper action for implementation of the report in a time- bound manner.
While the PDC was mandated to work out the present cost of the projects on the basis of globally accepted norms, a legal committee headed by State’s Advocate General was authorized to find legal options for recovery of the losses.
A top official told Greater Kashmir that the process of formation of committees on the matter was just a time-consuming process as no headway has been made in the past two years.
“Instead of taking escape route of constituting committees, there should have been prompt action from the State Government following the CSC report,” he said.