Jammu: For the first time since the Budget session began, the Legislative assembly on Friday got disrupted and witnessed noisy scenes after the Opposition accused the PDP-BJP government of misleading the people on transfer of power projects to the state from the Centre.
Ruckus broke out in the House after former chief minister Omar Abdullah said Union power minister has told Parliament that National Hydroelectric Power Corporation-owned power projects can’t be transferred to the state.
“The PDP-BJP had in their Agenda of Alliance said they will bring back these power projects. If the Union power minister had said that modalities are being worked even that would have been understandable. But he has denied it totally. Then why are they befooling the people,” Omar said.
Congress members joined Omar in the protest and trooped into the well of the House. Speaker Kavinder Gupta directed the marshals to escort the protesting MLAs Devender Rana, Abdul Majid Larvi, Altaf Kaloo, Vikar Rasool and Usman Majid out of the Assembly.
However, Larvi and a Watch and Ward staffer suffered minor injuries when the Opposition MLAs resisted attempts by marshals to herd them out of the house, prompting the speaker to adjourn the proceedings for 10 minutes.
As the House assembled again, the government’s assurance didn’t pacify the Opposition. Deputy chief minister Nirmal Singh and law and parliamentary affairs minister Basharat Bukhari said the government has not officially started the process of transfer of projects.
The Opposition members walked into the well and continued their protest, shouting slogans against the government, while others thumped desks to disrupt the proceedings. Amid the ruckus, the speaker again adjourned the house for five minutes.
Omar, while talking to reporters, alleged that the government was fooling the people on the issue of transfer of power projects from the centre to state.
“It is in the Common Minimum Programme. In their governor’s address that NHPC power projects should be returned to the state by the Centre and it means that the decision has been taken and modalities are to be worked out,” he said.
As the Assembly resumed proceedings after two brief adjournments, opposition members again walked into the Well of the House and created ruckus in the house.
Replying to the oppositions charge against the government, Bukhari said, “We have just started governing the state. We have not officially started the process in this regard, but we assure you that whatever is in our CMP we will bring power projects back.”
However, Omar retorted, “We are not satisfied by the reply and if the Centre would have said in its reply that it is under consideration I would have still not raised questions over it. But the Centre has said that there are financial and legal problems involved in it so it is a clear cut answer on it.”
To this, Nirmal Singh asked the previous NC-Congress government, “You have failed to bring back power projects to the state during your rule. Your government was in the state and at the Centre and there were recommendations by the C Ranga Rajan Commission on the transfer of power projects to the state but you failed.
“I promise you that we will bring back the power projects to the state. What has not happened during your period will be a reality in our government.”
Singh, while referring to Union power minister’s statement in Parliament, said the minister had spoken when the BJP-PDP coalition had not been formed.
However, the Opposition refused to budge and continued their protest leading to pandemonium. The marshaled out members returned to the House shouting slogans, forcing the Speaker to adjourn the proceedings till the second session.
Similar scenes were witnessed in the Legislative Council over the issue. Congress’ Ravinder Sharma and NC’s Sajjad Kitchloo trooped into the well and sat on a dharna. Chairman Amrit Malhotra adjourned the house amid noisy scenes. As the House re-assembled again, the Opposition did not allow the House to run smoothly and resorted to protests again.
The transfer of the power projects is one of the demands of the BJP-PDP coalition in the Agenda for Alliance (Common Minimum Programme), a guiding document for the working of the government for six-years.
According to the document, the state government would work with government of India to explore modalities for transfer of Dulhasti and Uri hydro power projects to the state as suggested by Rangarajan Committee and the Round Table reports besides revising royalty agreements
Process for transfer in progress: Akhter
Education minister Naeem Akhter said the process for return of power projects has begun, and the Opposition was trying to mislead the people over the issue.
Akhter told reporters that National Conference patron Dr Farooq Abdullah-led government had transferred seven power projects to the NHPC without signing any Memorandum of Understanding.
“Let NC leaders tell the people that they have ever made even a feeble effort to get these projects back,” he said, adding the PDP and BJP were “on the same page on the transfer of power projects”.
“It’s because of the stated position of the Government of India on the return of power projects that the issue has been flagged in the CMP so that the long-pending demand for the return of these projects to the State is taken to the logical conclusion,” Akhtar said.