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Security bites: tough terms for foreigners in hydel

The government, smelling security threats, is considering tough guidelines for the participation of foreign companies and nationals in hydro-electric projects close to the international border, Anupama Airy reports.

business Updated: Mar 08, 2009 21:28 IST
Anupama Airy

The government, smelling security threats, is considering tough guidelines for the participation of foreign companies and nationals in hydro-electric projects close to the international border.

A high-level meeting chaired by the National Security Advisor, MK Narayanan in the Prime Minister’s Office on February 17 decided to tighten guidelines for foreign companies in the implementation of such projects in the border areas and in other sensitive locations.

Most of the country’s hydel projects are in sensitive areas like Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim and the North-East and often involve firms from China, Korea, Russia and Europe working as contractors or subcontractors.

A senior Power Ministry official told Hindustan Times on the condition of anonymity that the NSA has asked power ministry to include a “preamble” to existing guidelines on hydel projects involving foreign firms.

“The NSA has laid down three basic precepts in the preamble for each hydropower project. The aim is to weed out chances of such projects becoming a potential national threat,” the official said.

“Any hydro project, whether in the private or public sector, which is within a 50 km distance from the Indian side of the border, with foreign participation of any form, will need prior security clearance,” said the suggested preamble, a copy of which was made available to Hindustan Times.

“Prior clearance would apply in the case of similar hydro-electric projects being set up in certain sensitive locations, even if these are away from the border,” said the document, which added that specific guidelines will be drawn up in consultation with the Home Ministry to define such sensitive zones.

“Other security aspects of hydro projects such as ensuring safety and security of structures such as dams, tunnels etc also need to kept in view,” said the document that insists on pre-contract discussions on issues linked to security concerns.

The power ministry has been given two weeks by the NSA to revise the current rules and put it up for clearance to the Cabinet Committee on Security.