Thursday, April 21, 2016

Plea to "transfer" out hydro power units to J&K: Transparency urged in power supply to Punjab, North India

By Our Representative
India's right to information (RTI) activists, in close coordination with those of the Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) state, have made a strong plea for the “transfer”, and not "buyback", hydro power projects put up in J&K to the state, and greater transparently in supplying power to other states.
In an email alert, senior RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI), a Delhi-based advocacy group, and Dr Shaikh Ghulam Rasool, of the J&K RTI Movement, have said that J&K “is a power surplus state that lights up homes and powers industries across northern India while its own people face severe power outages day after day.”
Basing his information on the RTI reply he received from the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC), which runs several power plants in J&K, Nayak says, “More than two-thirds of the hydel power generated in J&K is consumed outside the state.”
Insisting that “the first woman Chief Minister of J&K “has her task cut out to 'em-power' the people in J&K, he says, “Punjab is the largest buyer of power generated in J&K followed by Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh, in that order.”
Referring to a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signed by the then Chief Minister of J&K and the then Minister for Power in the Central Government, Nayak says, it referred to “transfer” of seven hydel projects -- Kishanganga, Uri-II, Bursar, Sewa-II, Pakal Dul, Nimmo Bazgo and Chutak -- to NHPC, in order to "exploit the large power potential in the state".
“The purpose of the transfer is to enable NHPC to 'execute these projects over a period of 10 years', in phases so that their implementation would help the State in its overall development apart from 'meeting its winter peak requirements of electricity'”, notes Nayak.
“The installed capacity of these projects is said to be a little more than 2,000 megawatts. Nearly 40% of the hydel power generated by NHPC projects across the country flows from J&K”, he says.
Adds Dr Rasool of the J&K RTI Movement, “Precious public funds are being invested on polluting diesel generators to provide power supply to far flung areas when a large proportion of the clean energy generated in the state is being sold outside the state.”
“J&K RTI Movement calls on the J&K govermment under Mehbooba Mufti’s leadership to protect the interests of the State better, by negotiating vigourously for the handing over (and not buyback) of the hydel projects to J&K”, he says in a statement.
The demand has been made, even as the RTI replies, says Nayak, have revealed that between 2001-2015 (14 years) NHPC earned more than Rs 19,431.92 crores to be exact from the sale of power generated in J&K to all power utilities, including the J&K government.”
Insisting that the terms of the MoU, regarding transfer of the power projects after 10 years, does not mention of a "buyback" of these projects by J&K government, Nayak says, “The language of the MoU only talks about 'handing over the projects' to J&K government.”
Nayak further says, “The Group of Interlocutors for J&K appointed by the Union Government, in October 2010, to hold discussions with all sections of opinion in J&K and identify the political contours of a solution and the road map towards it recommended the transfer of power projects under the Central Government's control back to the State as one of the several economic and social confidence building measures" required to reach the eventual solution.”
“Strangely”, he says, “The Interlocutors' Report has disappeared from the webpage of the Union Home Ministry where it was hosted earlier.”

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