Inept consultants, torpid governments: why power projects in JK lie abandoned, incomplete

SRINAGAR: The state government’s plan of generating 9,000 MW of power by 2021 won’t be realised. According to information accessed by Kashmir Reader, the power projects that the government is relying on are yet to start or are nowhere near completion though their deadlines are near.
The 850-MW Ratle power project is, in fact, lying abandoned. Its owner, M/s GVK, after working on the project for six years finally abandoned it in July 2014. Efforts by the state government to resume the work have failed. Last year, the government decided to take legal recourse against the company, of which nothing has come out so far.
Another hopeless project is the 93-MW Ganderbal. For the past two decades the project is yet to start because the state government has not given its nod to a proposal sent by the Power Development Corporation (PDC).  The PDC is a state-owned company that looks after power generation in the state.
Two projects, 48-MW lower Kalnai and 37.5-MW Parnai, were scheduled to be completed by September 2017. Only 10 percent of the work has been done on them. According to official documents accessed by Kashmir Reader, the Coastal Project Ltd, the company to which the Kalnai project was awarded, has not even acquired all the land required for the project. Now the project is four months away from completion date, and not even the site office, site store, stock yard and labour colony have been built.
The company owning the 37.5-MW Parnai, M/s Patel Engineering Ltd, has only acquired 50 percent of the land required for the execution of the project. Apart from not doing much work on the project, it has not completed work on the buildings needed for the project. This project, too, is set to miss its deadline by a long distance.
In the state’s plan of generating 9000 MW of power by 2021, more than 6,000 MW were to come from state-owned projects, 1,900 MW from central government-owned projects, and the rest from the private sector. All these three types of projects have finished less than 30 percent of their targets.
Information in the documents accessed by Kashmir Reader shows that the reason for this failure is partly the government’s negligence and partly the incompetent private consultants it hired.
In case of the Ganderbal project, the state has not given its nod to a project that was conceived in the 1980s and officially started in the 1990s. First it was delayed by the earlier National Conference-Congress government which did not call a PDC board meeting, and now the PDP-BJP government is sitting over the file. In the last board meeting that was held after a long time, the project was sent to the cabinet for its nod. If the decision is not taken soon, the project may require fresh permission from various departments, which means a further delay of many years.
In case of Kalnai and Parnai projects, the government engaged the ICCS-Rodic Consortium as project management consultants, who took billions of rupees for work they had never done before: supervising a hydropower project. It is a matter of speculation on how the state engaged them, when protocol says that only experienced firms should be engaged as consultants.