Bootless Bargain: JK to reimburse water usage charges to NHPC

After CERC nod, Corporation loads user charges on State’s power purchase bill

Putting into practice the idiom “robbing Peter to pay Paul,” Jammu and Kashmir government’s much-hyped water usage charges will now go back to National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) kitty as the Corporation is loading the same as additional component of the state’s power purchase bill. However, the government shall have to reimburse the water usage charges to NHPC only on the share of energy generated and purchased by JK from the Corporations’ hydropower projects within the state.
The move comes in the wake of Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) nod to NHPC to recover water usage charges – which the Corporation is paying to JK government – from its buyers.
Highly placed sources told Greater Kashmir that the JK government has finalized the Jammu & Kashmir Water Resources (Regulation & Management) amendment Bill – 2014 to pave the way for reimbursement of water usage charges back to NHPC for power purchase. They payment would be made to NHPC from the fund that was initially projected by the state government as corpus money to buy back the hydropower projects from the Corporation.
The Bill, according to sources, would be placed before the State cabinet for approval shortly.
According to them, the amendment bill is aimed at modifying Section 185-A of Jammu & Kashmir Water Resources (Regulation & Management) Act-2010 for the purpose of reimbursing the water usage charges to the power generation companies as a part of the power purchase bill.
“It will be like getting money from the power generation companies from one hand and paying the same back to them by another, without any tangible benefit for the state,” said an official privy to the arrangement.
He said that JK would cobble-up some money only from the energy generated by NHPC and other power companies in the state and sold outside.
 Explaining the necessity for the amendment, a senior official in the state’s Power Development Department (PDD) said that following the JK government’s decision to levy water usage charges, NHPC knocked the CERC door seeking reimbursement of the charges from the energy buyers. 
Following CERC nod, NHPC  is serving  monthly bills to JK government on account of water usage charges of power purchased by the  State from Salal (690 MW), Uri (480 MW), Dulhasti (390 MW) and Sewa-II (120 MW) hydroelectric projects.
The bill payable by JK government to NHPC, according to sources, has already mounted up to a whopping Rs 700 crore.
Pertinently, in October 2010, JK government passed, with much fanfare, Jammu & Kashmir Water Resources (Regulation & Management) Act to levy user charges on the water harnessed by NHPC for power generation in the state.
According to official sources, JK government has already collected around Rs 2200 crore as water usage charges from the power generation companies operating in the state.

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