Srinagar: Denying information by Chief Information Commission (CIC) about negotiations between the JK government and NHPC on hydel projects have evoked criticism in the Kashmir Valley.
Former Congress minister, Taj Mohi-u-Din said that NHPC is not any holy cow which can any conceal information.
“NHPC is a public company. Everything about it should be public. Taking shelter behind some absurd law is no excuse,” he said.
“The information about NHPC and our power projects is lying with the state government. State cabinet sub-committee of NC- Congress government has already made available all the records about it. But we are not going to the court with the documents to contest the case for return of power projects. Two power projects-Uri-I and Salal can be taken back with the intervention of the court as NHPC and the state government has an agreement on it,” he said.
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has rejected an RTI plea seeking disclosure of records related to the discussions on the demand for handing over by the government of India seven NHPC projects in Jammu and Kashmir to the state government, citing exemption clauses of “commercial confidence” and “third party.”
Questioning the decision, Nayak said that the clause of third party does not apply as the public authority which receives the information request and makes a decision on it through its Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), is the ‘second party.’
He said it cannot also be a third party in its own case. “It may be noted here that NHPC generates more than 40 per cent of the hydel power from plants situated in Jammu and Kashmir,” Naik said.
According to Section 11 of the RTI Act, if an applicant seeks information from a public authority about a third party, the concerned official must take views of that party before disclosure. However, the final decision rests with the concerned official who may overrule objections raised by the third party.
Chairperson J&K RTI Movement, Dr Shaikh Ghulam Rasool today said that J&K RTI Movement is deeply disturbed by the secrecy that continues to plague the negotiations between J&K Government and the Government of India about the return of hydel-projects to J&K.
Rasool said the refusal of the Central Information Commission (CIC) to direct NHPC Ltd. to disclose details of the negotiations under the Central RTI Act, is another deadly blow to J&K’s long standing demand for control over their natural resources.
“NHPC’s argument before the CIC that disclosing information about the negotiations will lead to speculation and confusion among shareholders is highly condemnable.” (KNS)