First Blow To JK Govt: Centre Refuses Transfer Of Power Projects

26 March 2015
Greater Kashmir
Muddasir Ali

Jammu: The Union Power Ministry has said it can't transfer power projects owned by the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) to Jammu and Kashmir, citing 'legal and financial problems.' The fresh stand of New Delhi has come to fore at a time when the J&K government is repeatedly saying that it was negotiating with New Delhi on return of two power projects-390 MW Dul Hasti and 480 MW Uri I-from NHPC to the State. In their reports to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, different panels set up to recommend boosting State's economic scenario-Working Group on economic development of JK, Rangarajan Committee and Task Force on development of the State-had recommended transfer of the two power projects. The Union Power Ministry has however disclosed that the recommendations made by the panels 'haven't been accepted by Government of India as the power generated from the projects stands already allocated to various States including J&K.' 'Also the transfer of projects is likely to entail considerable financial, non-financial and legal problems,' Union Minister of State for Power Piyush Goyal has said in his written response to a question by Peoples Democratic Party's MP Tariq Hameed Karra. The PDP MP had raised the query during recently-held budget session in the Parliament. A Cabinet Sub-Committee (CSC) constituted by the former State Government in 2011 to review the pact with NHPC on all power projects had recommended to the government to buy back from the Corporation two projects-690 MW Salal and 480 MW Uri-I-at depreciated cost of Rs 2566 crore. The Corporation and the then government of India led by Congress however rejected the proposal citing it would set precedence for other states where the NHPC was operating the projects. In its Common Minimum Program for running the state, JK's coalition Government of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) asserted it would set in motion the process to seek return of power projects from NHPC to State. Earlier this week, the state government informed the Legislative Assembly, which is in the session, that for the 'first time the Government of India has agreed to negotiate with the state the return of two power projects.' Subsequently Finance Minister Dr Haseeb Drabu told a press conference here that a process has been started to explore ways for return of power projects from the Corporation. The fresh revelations made by the Union Power Ministry are however in total contradiction to the assertions by the State government. Meanwhile, in response to another question by the PDP MP Tariq Hameed Karraa, the Union Ministry has revealed that the power kitty of the NHPC has grown to 2009 MW in J&K-the highest in any state. The NHPC generates a total of 4961 MW in six states, the reply states. The power generated by the Corporation in J&K (2009 MW) is a little less than half of the energy it was generating across all six states, the reply revealed. Giving the break up, the Union Ministry has said 2009 MW were generated from seven hydropower projects in JK-Salal, Uri-I, Uri-II, Dulhasti, Sewa-II, Nimoo Bazgo and Chutak. After J&K, the Corporation generates 1771 MW in HP followed by 570-MW in Skimm. Jammu and Kashmir is struggling to improve the power generations to meet growing demand for the energy. At present State generates around 761-MW from 21 power projects owned by the Power Development Corporation. However the demand has gone up to around 2500-MW and the government spends crores of rupees annually to import the electricity to meet the shortfall. J&K has a hydropower potential of around 2000-MW against which the total generation in the State and center sector is less than 3000-MW. The government has set on a plan to increase generation capacity by around 5000-MW in the state sector.