Srinagar: A prominent civil society body Sunday said that NHPC’s control and ownership of all power projects in Jammu and Kashmir is illegal and unconstitutional.
The Kashmir Centre for Social and Development Studies (KCSDS) also impressed upon the state government to immediately take back possession of all the power projects from NHPC and hand them over to J&K SPDC for general good of the public.
Reacting to the statement of a sitting Congress Minister Taj Mohi-ud-Din that Uri-II power project inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on last Friday was illegal as NHPC does not possess a licence to operate from the state under the State Water Resources Act-2010, the KCSDS said that no such licence has been obtained by the company for other projects as well like that of 120 MW Sewa -II, 45 MW Nimo Bazgo, 44 MW Chutuk and upcoming 330 MW Kishenganga.
Besides obtaining a licence under State Water Resources Act, it is also mandatory for all power projects to obtain a licence under J&K State Electricity Act which has also not been obtained by NHPC for any of its new as well as old projects including 690 MW Salal, 480 MW Uri-I and 390 MW Dul Hasti making all the seven projects and upcoming eighth project (Kishenganga) illegal, a KCSDS statement said.
The five new projects completed or under construction by NHPC are part of seven power projects which were handed over to them by the state government in 2000 on BOT (Build, Operate and Transfer) basis. The MOU signed mentions that the time period after which these projects are returned to the state would be decided later as per “mutually accepted methodology”, understandably any time before commissioning of these projects. “However, till date this has not been done which makes the very agreement between the state government and NHPC on these projects inchoate,” the KCSDS said.
“It is immoral as well as illegal to start operation of any power project under an inchoate agreement,” it said.
“Besides being illegal, the continued retention of power projects by NHPC is also unconstitutional as the land utilized for the power projects has not been transferred to them under due legal process. After the incorporation of part (d) to section 140 of the J&K Transfer of Property Act in 1979, there is a provision for transferring state land in the name of President of India on his requisition. The President in turn could have sublet it to NHPC for execution, maintenance and subsequently transfer of power projects back to the state after certain time period. However, such a process is conspicuous by its absence in any of the power projects run by NHPC in the state and in absence of a valid land deal in President’s name all projects constructed by NHPC are illegal and unconstitutional,” the KCSDS said.
“The onus of illegal and unconstitutional retention of power projects and their illegal operation by NHPC squarely lies on the state government and could very well be termed as dereliction of duty by the government towards protecting the public assets. KCSDS also dismisses with disdain the minister’s assertion that Modi would not have inaugurated the power project had he known its illegal status. It is a known fact that GoI and its functionaries put aside all legalities and ethical standards when it comes to implementing their sinister agendas in Kashmir.
“In light of these facts KCSDS impresses upon the state government to immediately take back possession of all the power projects from NHPC and hand them over to J&K SPDC for general good of the public,” the KCSDS statement said.