SRINAGAR: The prominent business organisations of Jammu and Kashmir on Tuesday said that if the state has to come out of its “begging bowl syndrome” then New Delhi has to force the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) to return power projects which it has “illegally” occupied over the years.
President, Jammu Chamber of Commerce and Industries Rakesh Gupta and his Kashmir counterpart Mushtaq Wani, President of the Kashmir Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) were talking to reporters in a joint press conference here.
Gupta said the NHPC has missed the deadline on returning many power projects to the state and New Delhi has not taken any action. “Neither the Indian nor the J&K government helps people when required. We are now asking them to bring these power projects back to the state because the NHPC has no legal reason to stay here. These projects, if brought back, will give an impetus to the economy of Jammu and Kashmir,” Gupta said.
Mushtaq Wani said that the chamber, since 2000, has been asking New Delhi to return the power projects, however “our repeated pleas have fallen on deaf ears.”
“Interlocutors, who were appointed after the 2010 uprising against Indian rule, have also recommended the same. In their report they have even asked for a 50% hike in royalty from 12.5%, if the NHPC does not return the projects. Five years later, the report is gathering dust and the recommendations have not been implemented,” he said.
The trade bodies also asked New Delhi to declare the state a free economic zone, issue a list of negative items for LOC trade, declare tourism as an industry and end the harassment of honest tax payers. Also accusing the J&K government of harassing “honest tax-paying traders”, the bodies warned the government of “serious financial indiscipline” if it does not refrain from such acts.
“If our demands are not met then we will give them a befitting reply. We warn the commercial taxes department not to enter the premises of honest tax-paying businessmen,” Rakesh Gupta said.