Power crisis continues to disrupt normal life in the Valley. The long & unscheduled power cuts have become a way of life. And the fresh snowfall has come as a double whammy for the people of Kashmir. Besides darkness they have been cut off from the rest of the world too, due to closure of roads.
The epicenter of the perennial problem lies at New-Delhi, whose East India Company, (as one Minster of State coalition Govt. described it) the National Hydro electric Power Corporation (NHPC) has assumed a monopolistic role over our strategic water based power projects & plundered them to fill its own coffers. The role of corporates in controlling State resources is well too known & documented. East India Company is one such corporate creature which entered Indian shores with the sole purpose of trade & commerce but ended up with occupying vast Indian resources including land. Another instance is of United Fruit company OF USA. In 1950 this company acquired & ran the whole of Guatemala as a private concern, owning the public infrastructure, including ports, railways, communications and banks.
It needs to be noted though that one aspect of the right of self-determination is the right of peoples to use and exploit their natural wealth and resources, reinforced by the Declaration on Permanent Sovereignty over Natural Resources of 1962.
That NHPC in J&K was never given ownership of power projects as per the provisions of law except their execution, operation and maintenance. Therefore, these projects actually belong to the State. According to the original terms & conditions as contained in the cabinet decision no. 328 dated 21-06-1975 & communicated to Minstry of energy ,GOI vide letter no. Pd-iv/243/72 dated 21-07-1975, the following conditions were settled with NHPC for Salal project:
1. NHPC will be responsible for identification, preparation of feasibility report, supply of technical know-how of the project and that it will only be responsible for running the project after the Same is commissioned. So much so the State Govt. reserved the right of execution & management of the project during construction period with itself.
2. Half of the power generated from time to time will be made available to the J&K State at Generation cost. The power requirement of the State will be reviewed after every five years.
3. The project will be fully financed by Govt. of India.
4. The ownership of the project will revert to the State Govt. after a suitable period on payment of depreciated cost in accordance with the J&K Electricity Supply Act, 1971.
5. The State Govt. will be at liberty to sell any surplus power out of its 50% share to any State
6. The profit earned on sale of balance 50% power will be shared by State Govt. & GOI in equal ratio.
7. The State Govt. will have the sole rights for development of fisheries and navigation in the reservoir created by the project.
While the whole file regarding the above decision is reported missing (read deliberately misplaced), a reference of said decision & its contents were made in memorandum dated 28-11-80 submitted to the cabinet by PDD regarding transfer of land to NHPC for execution of another project namely Dulhasti hydro electric power project and also reiterated by then Chief Minster, Sheikh Mohd. Abdullah to then Union Energy Minster, Mr. Gani Khan Chowdhary vide his DO Letter No. PDD/1V/243/72 dated 16/10/1981.
This is proof enough that the above terms & conditions were to apply in respect of all the Hydro-electric power projects executed by NHPC in the State.
But the NHPC is in total denial mode in respect of above agreed terms & conditions. It only concedes a 12% share of Power produced in the State and at times sells us our own power at Rs. 6-8 per unit (against cost of production of around 60 paise per unit) which the State can ill afford & hence shortages & interruptions in supply.
A question arises as to how the important records as stated above disappeared from the Govt. offices. To reply this question one has to find who benefitted most from such disappearance. The answer is clear NHPC. But if your guess is different than mine-please do tell me at email@example.com.
(The author is a practicing Chartered Accountant)