SRINAGAR: The National Hydroelectric Power Corporation Ltd (NHPC) of India was to stop electricity supply to J&K on February 15 due to “outstanding dues”, but withdrew regulation at the last minute in view of the “sensitivity of the state”, a media report said Monday.
J&K reportedly owes NHPC Rs 1,045 crore of electricity supply charges. And since the cash-starved state had failed to pay the amount on time, the company had decided to withdraw power supply to the state, the Livemint newspaper reported.
“The dues are pending for a very long time. So much so that the company decided to suspend electricity supply to the state over unpaid dues after February 15. However, given the sensitivities involved, the notice for regulation was withdrawn on the night of February 14. The state government says that it doesn’t have any money to pay,” the daily quoted an unnamed executive of NHPC as saying.
The withdrawal of regulations was made by the Power Ministry of India taking a “soft” stand on the state in the “peak of winters”.
“One can’t be heartless and stop power then,” the official said.
NHPC is currently managing four operational power projects of the state—Salal, Dul-Hasti, Uri-I and Sewa-II. The projects have a collective power generation of 1680 MWs. Many other projects including 280-MW Uri-II (Baramulla), 330-MW Kishanganga (Bandipora), 1020 MW Bursar (Kishtwar), 45-MW Chutak (Kargil), and 44-MW Nimo Bazgo (Leh) are said to be in various stages of development.
The state’s four projects under NHPC roughly amount to 47 per cent of the company’s total annual power generation throughout India. And, according to the figures mentioned in the newspaper, 2,000MW of 4,857MW power generated by NHPC comes from Jammu and Kashmir alone.
Of late, the authenticity of agreement between NHPC and the state government with regard to certain power projects has come under question. And it was accepted by the former Public Health and Engineering minister Taj Mohi-ud-Din as well—he who went on to compare NHPC with the East India Company.
NHPC’s move of cutting off the power supply comes at a time when the state government claims to have initiated a process to charge NHPC for using the state’s waters.
“Of the Rs.1,132 crore due to NHPC for more than 60 days, the state owes Rs 970 crore,” the daily reported.
“Electricity supply has been stopped to Meghalaya. Jammu and Kashmir is the biggest defaulter for us. However, there is a different yardstick for the state. We are referred as the East India Company there,” the newspaper quoted another unnamed NHPC executive as saying.
“The story of power is not a simple game of arithmetic in Kashmir. It needs to be understood in the backdrop of complex Centre-state relations, the special status of Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370, and complex narrative of trust deficit, alienation and betrayal,” Shweta Singh, an Assistant Professor in the Department of International Relations at South Asian University told the newspaper.
“The other side of the story is local and state-level governance in Kashmir is marred in issues of corruption and accountability. Thus, any issue on power generation as well as distribution is a political issue. For the local Kashmiri, the fact that locally generated power has not been to put to optimum utilization in the Valley is a source of antagonism,” Singh added.