While NHPC counts profits, Uri residents recall broken promises, plan agitation

Baramulla: The revelation that India’s public sector power giant NHPC has earned about 3 billion dollars off J&K’s power plants in the past 14 years has riled more than a dozen villages in Uri that had been promised round-the-clock electricity when the 480-MW Uri-I was commissioned in 1997.
Raja Irshad Ahmad of Boniyar village in Uri, said that NHPC’s power supply line runs along 15 villages, from Boniyar to Kitchama village in Baramulla tehsil.
When the supply line was being laid, Irshad said, the NHPC had promised villagers, whose land was procured for installing towers, that they would get free electricity, free education for their children, free hospitality/health care, employment in power projects for educated and uneducated youths, playgrounds and parks.
“They forgot everything and are counting their profits only. We approached the government of Jammu and Kashmir several times but they all helpless before the Indian company NHPC and the government forces deployed around NHPC colonies,” he said.
“The police and other forces deployed for the security of projects has beaten us so many times and never allowed us to protest because as you know this is a garrison area,” he added.
He recalls the day when a peaceful demonstration at one of the gates of the NHPC colony in Boniyar had been fired at by Central Industrial Security Force personnel, killing a youth, Altaf Ahmad Sood of Boniyar, and injured about a dozen others.
The police had filed a case of murder against the CISF, he said, but for the past four years (the incident occurred in January 2012) there has been no headway.
Also, villagers say, then chief minister Omar Abdullah, power minister and NHPC officials had assure the killers would be punished and the NHPC would provide the promised power supply.
Gulam Mohammad Lone, another villager, said, “We only want regular electricity supply now. We don’t want the facilities they had promised and which they forgot.”
Showqat Ahmad, a social worker, said Uri residents will organise a meeting soon, where they will chalk out a strategy for an agitation against the NHPC, which has been “using our water, land, forests, mountains, streams and many other things and still doesn’t provide us regular electricity against tariff”.
Mir Iqbal Ahmad, a politician, told Kashmir Reader that he was shocked to read about NHPC’s massive earnings, while the people who gave away their agricultural land are “forced to spend their days in dark”.
None of the NHPC officials was ready to speak on record. However, one top official said on condition of anonymity that they had no objection to providing “free electricity to Uri or the entire Baramulla district if J&K government were to raise the issue with the government of India”.
Information accessed by J&K RTI Movement recently revealed that the NHPC has earned about Rs 19,500 crore in profits from sale of power generated at seven power plants in J&K, including Uri 1 and II plants, which generate 710 MWs of power.

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