The Himachal secretariat of the Communist Party of India Marxist (CPM) has sought chief minister Virbhadra Singh's intervention in the issue of the ownership of the1,500 MW Nathpa Jhakri hydroelectric dam to the state government to tide over its ballooning fiscal deficit. In a letter to the chief minister, Tikender Singh Panwar, a member of the secretariat, urged the government to immediately take over the power plant from the central government owned Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN) and operate it itself "in the interests of the state".
"The move will help in reducing the deficit of the state which is already saddled with a debt of over `30,000 crore. Besides the HP State Electricity Board has run up debts totaling `1,500 crore. The government should vigorously pursue a takeover the power plant with the central government in order to ease the debt crisis," he added.
Panwar pointed out in the recent past the Jammu & Kashmir government had taken over two hydel plants in the state from the central government. "Hence, on the same analogy, the Himachal government should also pursue its case to get its legitimate demand met. The purpose of setting up the Nathpa-Jhakri Power Corp, which eventually led to the formation of Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam, seems to have been defeated. NJPC was set up by the HP State Electricity Board in the late 1970s in order to harness the hydropower potential of harnessing the Sutlej river. The entire initial work on this project was carried out by HPSEB employees and engineers. But due to lack of funds Shanta Kumar, the then chief minister, signed an agreement with the central government in 1991 to execute this project as a joint venture with Nathpa Jhakri Power Corp," he added.
"The plant was commissioned in September2003 and till date is generating power shared in the ratio of 75:25 with 12% royalty to the HP government. Ironically, the project is earning huge profit of more than Rs 1,000 crore a year by supplying energy to different states while HP marred with a flawed and faulty hydro power policy in fact is a net buyer of energy. By November-December 2013 the state had to buy electricity worth Rs 1,500 crore and the figure further swelled by March 2014," Pawar said.