SRINAGAR: Could it be plain incompetence or something more ulterior that badly-needed electricity is forever playing truant in Kashmir? Three months ago, the J&K government abruptly and rather suspiciously – with Deputy Chief Minister Nirmal Singh taking too much interest in the matter – cancelled the contract that two Hyderabad-based companies had won, legally – after following the whole tender process – to execute two Government of India-funded projects for power infrastructure. Then, in a suspicious handout of unusually large profit margins, the government gave the contract – illegally, without going through any tender process – to two Government of India-owned companies. Now, the Hyderabad companies have filed a case against the J&K government, and the power projects that could have greatly improved power supply in Kashmir, are stuck in court.
The Hyderabad-based companies had won the J&K government’s tender to execute the Prime Minister’s Development Plan (PMDP-Rural) and the Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Grameen Jyoti Yojana (DDUGJY) of creating new infrastructure of electricity distribution in the state, especially in rural areas. Both the schemes were to be executed and finished last year (2017).
Top government sources told Kashmir Reader that the two PSUs (public-sector units) which were later given the contract – the REC Power Distribution Company Limited (REC PDCL) and the PGCIL (Power Grid Corporation of India Limited) – have contracted out the work to local contractors in three districts of Kashmir Valley, but in the rest seven districts – for which the Hyderabad companies had won the tender – work is yet t start because the matter has reached the court.
“The government completed all agreements with the PSUs months ago. The operative part of the work was to be done by the PSUs,” the sources said.
Both the Hyderabad companies have filed litigation in the Jammu & Kashmir High Court. Sources said that until the court delivers its verdict, no work is possible. “In the last hearing the court had reserved judgement in the case. The two PSUs can start work if the judgement comes in their favour. Otherwise, there is likeliness of further delay,” the sources said.
The Hyderabad companies have sued the JK government for taking the projects away from them illegally. Their argument is that the two government headed committees whose purpose was to examine how the Hyderabad companies had won the tenders, and how technically fit they were to execute the work, gave their report in the companies’ favour. Yet, the government gave the projects to the PSUs.
“No company showed interest in the tenders initially. Finally, the two companies won the tenders, but just when they were about to start work, their tenders were cancelled. Now litigation is preventing the start of work. In between all this, the people are suffering. The projects were first of their kind and were going to change the electricity distribution landscape of the Valley,” the government sources said.