Kashmir Govt Recommends Taking Back 3 Power Projects From Indian Corporation

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Srinagar, Feb 15: In what could be termed as a step towards power empowerment, the government of Indian administered Kashmir has recommended taking over of at least three power projects from Indian state sponsored National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC.

Sources said the Cabinet which met today in winter capital under the chairmanship of Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah accepted the report of cabinet sub-committee (CSC) formulated with regard to hydle projects of Kashmir.

They said after accepting the CSC report, the cabinet has decided to formulate another committee which would negotiate the return of the power projects with Indian government.

“After consultation with the Law Department, the new committee would negotiate the terms of return of projects with Indian government. The modalities for the return of the projects will be finalized soon,” officials said.

They said the member of the committee will be nominated by Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah.

“The Kashmir government has to only pay Rs 50 crore to NHPC to reclaim two projects. The cost of Uri power project has been estimated at Rs 2000 crore while Salal at Rs 400. Out of Rs 2400 crores, Kashmir government has to pay to NHPC only Rs 50 crores for return of two projects because the company already owes Rs 2350 crore to the Kashmir government,” a top official said.

The CSC had also recommended effective monitoring of all the agreements and terms and conditions which have been made with NHPC, keeping in view the benefits and rights of the state.

The Kashmir government intends to takeover three power projects – 690 MW Salal, 480 MW Uri (I) and 390-MW Dulhasti. Salal is the oldest of NHPC projects that generates cheapest clean energy in India right now. NHPC lacks basic ownership documents for Salal which has become a major issue in Kashmirpolitics. While the agreement that J&K signed with NHPC permits it to reclaim the Uri project and buy it back at depreciated cost, there is no such clause in the agreement on Dulhasti project.

Though the NHPC response is not immediately known but return of the three projects will give boost to power position in Kashmir, which may me good omen for industry sector.

Kashmir gets 12 per cent royalty on power generations from NHPC and the government’s repeated pleas to increase it have not been accepted by the company. This has created a situation that the Kashmir government started charging water usage charges from the water users including NHPC.

Fayaz Wani reports on life in Srinagar, Kashmir.