Notices to Centre, Punjab over handing over hydro project to HimachalUpdated: Nov 07, 2020, 18:22 IST
The Himachal Pradesh High Court issued notices to the Centre, Punjab and Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd on a petition to demand handing over of the ₹100-crore Shanan Hydropower Project in Jogindernagar to the hill state and providing free power to the public.
A division bench, comprising chief justice L Narayana Swamy and justice Anoop Chitkara, passed these orders on a petition filed by one Laxmender Singh of Mandi district.
The petitioner contended that the British Government of India had proposed a power project to supply power to Punjab and an agreement was executed with the erstwhile state of Mandi (Darbar) for the Uhl River Hydro Electric Project. It was agreed that Mandi will provide labour, land and water from Uhl River for the Hydro Electric Project and in return it will be supplied 500 KW free electricity from the project.
It was also agreed that a high tension line will be installed from the project to Mandi State and a power house will be constructed that will be maintained by Mandi State and a subsequent agreement dated December 26, 1935 was executed between the parties conditional to the supply of free electricity, the petitioner submitted.
The petitioner said that prior to the freedom of India, the said project was in the territory of the then Mandi State. However, from August 15, 1947 to April 9, 1965, Punjab occupied the project without any justification despite it being in the territory of Himachal Pradesh.
“In 1965 and 1975 agreements were executed and a notification was issued in favour of Punjab Electricity but the interests of Himachal and its public was not taken into consideration,” the petitioner alleged.
The petitioner submitted that Himachal was a small state with limited sources of income and the project generated ₹100 crore annually. Thus, if the project was handed over to Himachal, it will strengthen the state’s economy.
The petitioner requested the court to quash the agreements and notifications of the government of India and to direct the respondent authorities to hand over the Uhal River Hydro Electric Project to Himachal.
He has asked the court to direct respondents to provide free electricity to Mandi town and to pay the whole income of the project to Himachal. The court also directed the respondents to file a response within four weeks.