J&K won’t own its hydroelectric projects, says India’s power minister

J&K won’t own its hydroelectric projects, says India’s power minister

Drabu says minister made statement in ‘personal capacity’ and state govt pursuing ‘legal and practical’ ways to get these projects back

SRINAGAR: Indian power minister Piyush Goyal said on Friday there was little possibility of transferring the 390-megawatt hydropower project at Dulhasti and the 480-megawatt Uri-I project to the government of Jammu & Kashmir.
Goyal also ruled out the possibility of increasing the state’s share of electricity in the agreement with the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC).
Speaking in an online press conference that was beamed from New Delhi to studios in eight states, among them the NIC centre at Srinagar, Goyal said that instead of being given the Dulhasti and Uri power projects, the state of Jammu & Kashmir would now be part of a joint venture with the Chenab Valley Corporation (CVC).
“The state will start power projects with CVC and Jammu and Kashmir will naturally be a shareholder in the profits,” Goyal said.
In the Agenda for Alliance (AA) that formed the basis of power sharing between the PDP and BJP in J&K, it was agreed the transfer of the Dulhasti and Uri-I power projects from the NHPC to the government of J&K would be considered. The state was also expected to secure a share in profits, and a revision of royalty agreements with the NHPC.
The BJP had promised that these demands could be met only after the formation of government.
But on Friday, Goyal was speaking a different tone.
“States put forward a lot of demands to the Centre, but demands cannot be translated into decisions. These power projects are held by public listed companies and the share in power of 12 percent is the same for all the states and is given across the country as per norms of the private companies,” Goyal told reporters.
Last year also, Goyal in a meeting here in Srinagar had bluntly opposed these demands. He had even ruled out revision of royalty agreements.
In response to another question on power transmission losses in the state of J&K, Goyal said, “Many factors (he did not mention any) are responsible for the transmission losses in Jammu and Kashmir. The state government is working to fix it.”
During his last visit Goyal had promised that his ministry would help the state in minimising transmission and distribution losses (which are over 50%). On Friday, however, Goyal said the problem can only be solved if people pay power bills and expose power thefts.
“People in the state should cooperate in paying power bills. Someone in society should expose those who steal power. Then, together, we can resolve the issue of power deficit,” the minister said.
Reacting to Goyal’s statement, finance minister Haseeb Drabu said Goyal had spoken in “his personal capacity”, once again showing disagreements between PDP and its partner.
“We have discussed the issue threadbare at higher levels, including the prime minister’s level. Although it is difficult to transfer the projects but we have found the legal and practical ways of how it can be done. (He did not share any of these ways).Our government will pursue the transfer of projects following modalities developed already. It is an individual statement made by the power the minister,” Drabu told Kashmir Reader.