SRINAGAR: The Jammu and Kashmir government has missed a deadline for coming up with a hydro-electric policy that was envisaged to come out in the public domain in the month of July this year, Kashmir Reader has learnt.
Highly placed sources in the Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation (JKSPDC), the government-owned company that deals with harnessing of hydro-power, said that the company submitted a draft policy in March before the government. That policy draft has not been returned yet, because other departments were asked to send their feedback on it.
The JKSPDC in March this year sought its own suggestions on the policy draft. A Facebook group comprising entrepreneurs and hydro-power experts was formed. The feedback on it suggested single-window clearance, exemption from various taxes, and ease of doing business. Company sources said that the General Administration Department constituted a committee headed by the chief secretary and comprising administrative secretaries of the Power Development Department, the Finance, Planning and Development Department, the Public Health Engineering and Law Departments, the Managing Director of JKSPDC, and the Development Commissioner (Power). The committee was directed to submit its recommendations within a period of one month.
“The recommendations have not been submitted yet,” sources added.
At present, there is a 2011 policy in vogue, which was formed nine years after the first one was drafted. The aim was to harness unexploited potential, but both the policies have failed to yield desired results. The results can be gauged from the fact that since 2011, the state has set 2022 as a deadline to harness 9000 MW of energy. But the JKSPDC is far from completing projects which should have been completed by 2017. Two projects, the 48-MW lower Kalnai and 37.5-MW Parnai, were scheduled to be completed by September 2017, but only 10 percent of the work has been done on them. According to official documents accessed by Kashmir Reader, the Coastal Project Ltd, the company to which the Kalnai project was awarded, has not even acquired all the land required for the project.
Experts say that challenges to the harnessing of hydro-power are more today than they were in the past, because the rate of power in the market is now much less than the cost at which power would be generated by new hydroelectric projects, It makes little sense to build new power projects in this scenario.
The most recent power project inaugurated in the state, the 450-MW Baglihar II, sells a unit of power at Rs 3.5 to the Power Development Department, although the cost of generation per unit is more than Rs 4. That is why the JKSPDC is having a tough time selling power from Baglihar. The highest rate it has been offered by an entity other than the state government is Rs 2.5 per unit.
Experts opine that a new hydro-power policy that envisages Public Private Partnership and ease of doing business may yet revive the prospects of a profitable hydro-power industry.