The opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) and the ruling National Conference (NC) on Tuesday continued their bickering over who allowed the National Hydro-electricity Power Corporation’s (NHPC) to take over the Salal Hydro Electric Project in contravention to a Cabinet order issued in the year 1975.
“History of the NC betrayals and sellouts cannot be erased or changed by spin doctoring the facts on the sad story of J&K losing whatever it had by way of natural resources. First the rights over the rivers flowing through the state were signed away and then NHPC was handed over more than a dozen most feasible power projects,” alleged former deputy chief minister and senior PDP leader is his address to newly elected panchs and sarpanchs at Baramulla districts Sheeri area.
On Monday, advisor to Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the revelation that the state’s rights over the Salal Hydro Electric Project were surrendered in 1985 was an eye opener. “Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who has been clamouring for the rights of the people, and has been blaming the NC for the trade-off of the water resources needs to explain his conduct. In 1985 the state was ruled by G.M. Shah of the Awami National Conference and supported by the Congress, whose president was Sayeed,” alleged Gul.
Gul claimed that “it is unfortunate that while Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah got a very good deal from the Union government for Salal project, the benefits of the deal were simply surrendered in 1985 with the active support of Mufti”.
In response to Gul’s statement, senior PDP leader Baig today claimed seven power projects were given away even without the formality of a MOU (memorandum of understanding) to the NHPC by NC’s Farooq Abdullah. “Three more power projects were handed over by the present government. The present government has presided over the worst phase of state’s disempowerment in the shape of power projects, downgrading of J&K Bank and denial of freedom of peaceful protest,” alleged Baig.
PDP president Mehbooba Mufti too lashed out the NC-led government. "The government continues to sell power projects to stay in power. It also nurses grudge against civil society for not playing its role in getting them back. It is the same civil society which is being punished for raising its voice against atrocities. Were not the 120 people killed last summer in struggle for justice, or the hundreds who still are in jails part of the same civil society that the government is now pleading with for help?" asked Mufti.
The Salal power project produces around 3,300 million units of energy annually. Of 3300 million units, the state is getting 400 million units free as royalty while as it is purchasing another 750 million units annually at the rate of 0.72 paisa. If it was transferred to J-K on time, the project would have also saved around more than 1/3rd of the Power Bill to the state, which is set to touch Rs 3,000 crore this fiscal.
According to a Cabinet order dated 21/07/1975, JK government would be entitled to 50 % share of power on generation cost from the project, it will be at will to sell any surplus power out of its 50 % share to any state, the profit earned from sale of the (remaining) 50 % of power will be shared between state government and the government of India, and the ownership of the project will be reverted to the state government after a suitable period on payment of depreciated cost in accordance with JK Electric Supplies Act 1971 besides setting some other terms and conditions. The execution was not even taken up by the then state government in 1987 when the project started power generation.