New Delhi’s refusal to support J&K government’s proposal to buy back power projects from the National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) under the recently announced Rs 80000-crore package has “dealt a blow” to its plans for economic revival of the state.
Under the package that was announced by the Prime Minister on November 7, the State—as per the negotiations with Government of India—was to receive funding from the Centre for buying back the power projects including 240 MW Uri-I and 390-MW Dulhasti, from the NHPC.
But when the package was announced, New Delhi, had “unilaterally dropped” the equity proposal and cut Rs 27000 crore from the package “as a last minute trimming.”
“It is disappointing given that return of power projects from NHPC is part of our government’s agenda of alliance. But we don’t see it as an end of the process,” said one of the senior Ministers of the ruling Peoples Democratic Party.
The stand taken by Government of India is seen as disappointment for J&K on two fronts—its plans to address growing power demands and bolster annual budget of the state that is struggling to meet its expenditures, in the longer terms.
Annually, the State imports power for thousands of crore rupees to meet local demands and this import has been a major burden on state’s revenue bases which haven’t grown beyond
Rs 11000 crore, though the State’s annual budget has gone beyond Rs 46000 crore.
Last year the government imported energy for Rs 4,719.60 crore while as the power purchase bill has already crossed Rs 2,432.62 crore till August this year.
“Government of India is not sincere towards strengthening the economy of the state and that’s the reason for its refusal to fund state Government’s plans to buy back power projects from the NHPC,” noted economist Prof Nissar Ali told.
He said New Delhi’s going back on the agreement with state to provide the funding of Rs 38000 crore for J&K’s power sector has “once again proved beyond any doubt that they don’t want state’s real economic empowerment”.
Against Rs 38000 crore originally approved for the power sector, JK only got a little over Rs 11000 crore.
This is not for the first time that New Delhi has buried government plans or recommendations to help revive state’s economy.
When the Prime Minister’s Working Group and Rangarajan Committee strongly recommended transfer of power projects to J&K to address state’s issues on economy front, New Delhi sat on the recommendations for long only to bury them later.
In June this year also, the Union Minister for Power PiyushGoyal told a power conference here that New Delhi would be more than willing to support State’s plans to augment transmission system that would allow it to import more energy from outside. But he had out rightly rejected any proposal to return NHPC-owned power projects to the state.
The buying back of the projects was also recommended by a cabinet sub-committee that was constituted by previous government for revisiting all the agreements with the NHPC over the projects owned by the corporation in the state.
“By refusing to provide equity, the message from New Delhi is clear that they don’t want sustainable development of the state as power sector holds key to state’s development and resource generation,” said ShakeelQalander who was member of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s job panel for J&K.
He said the NHPC was “illegally holding” projects in the state and State Government has failed to take any action in this regard.
Experts have been reiterating that development in the energy generation sector holds key to boosting state’s economy and transfer of the projects is seen one of ways that could help J&K to increase its resources by selling power to outside states and also plan long term revival of state’s financial health.
“This is what Government of India doesn’t want and that is why we have always been seeing New Delhi giving burial to the recommendations by its own committees in the past for transferring power projects to the state,” said Qalander.
Senior Minister and cabinet spokesperson NaeemAkther said getting back power projects from the NHPC was part of the agenda of alliance which has been agreed to by both PDP and BJP as working formula for governing the state.
This is an important component of agenda of alliance and there has to be a visible progress on it, he said.
He however said government of India’s refusal to fund buying back of the projects was not end of the process.
“The process has started with funds been kept for PakalDul hydropower projects which is a joint venture J&K and NHPC. We will move on the agenda of alliance,” said Akther.