RTI movement dismayed about secrecy of negotiations with NHPC

Urges state govt to publicise all information

Srinagar: Expressing dismay over the secrecy “that continues to plague” the negotiations between J&K government and the Government of India about the return of hydel projects to the state, the J&K RTI movement has urged the state government to disclose all information about securing the return of hydel projects to J&K..
A press statement issued by Chairperson J&K RTI Movement Shaikh Ghulam Rasool said that the recent 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 residents’ long standing demand for control over their natural resources”.
“J&K RTI Movement calls upon the J&K Government to immediately publicise all correspondence it has conducted with the Government of India till date about the return of the hydel projects as per the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in July, 2000,” the statement said.
It added that under the MoU, seven hydel projects, Kishanganga, Uri-II, Bursar, Sewa-II, Pakal Dul, Nimmo Bazgo and Chutak were transferred to NHPC for funding, execution and operation for a period of 10 years. Both Governments had agreed to work out a mutually acceptable methodology for handing over these power projects to J&K after a decade.
In July 2014, the Government of India replied to Mehbooba Mufti’s unstarred question (# 2194) raised in the Lok Sabha that it had not received any proposal from the Government of J&K for the return of hydel projects that have earned more than their investment cost or for the re-negotiation of terms and conditions with the NHPC.
The statement said that Ms Mufti has been in power for almost two years and has the power to publicly declare whether her government has written to the GoI demanding the return of hydel projects and make all that correspondence public.
The three Interlocutors appointed by the UPA Government in 2010 recommended the return of all central power projects to the J&K government as a confidence building measure. However, both the past and present ministers for power in GOI have publicly stated that this recommendation has been rejected, without providing detailed reasons. On the other hand, NHPC has claimed that the issue has not been resolved yet. NHPC has stated before the CIC that disclosure of details of the negotiations is not in the public interest.
“J&K RTI Movement is perplexed by these contradictory claims. Only J&K Government can resolve this contradiction by opening up its files about the ongoing negotiations.”
It added that data obtained under RTI has shown that during the first 15 years of this century, NHPC has earned close to Rs. 200 billion by selling power produced from the waters of J&K. Meanwhile the State Government is compelled to buy between 19-20% of the power generated in J&K from NHPC projects at market rates.