…the tale of missing records
During the week, JK Power Minister, incidentally the Deputy CM of North Pole/South Pole coalition promised to conduct a fresh inquiry into the misplacement of records relating to DulHasti power project. The minister was responding to a question of CPI (M) MLA Muhammad Yousuf Tarigami in legislative assembly. Misplaced records relate to the cabinet decision number: 328 taken on 21.06.1975, and conveyed to Ministry of Energy, GOI vide letter No: PD/IV/243/72 dated:-21.07.1975. In the year 2011, former minister of PHE, Irrigation and Flood Control —Taj Mohi-ud-Din, related in a seminar conducted in S.P. College that reference to the original cabinet decision of 1975 was found after an intense search in the secretariat. It relates:
(a) J&K Government will be responsible for execution and management of the project during construction.
(b) Half of the power generated from time to time will be made available to the J&K state at any cost. The power requirement of the state will be reviewed after every five years.
(c) The project will be fully financed by the GOI.
(d) The Ownership of the project will revert to the
(e) State Government after a suitable period on payment of depreciated cost in accordance with the J&K electricity act 1971.
(f) (i) The state Government will be at liberty to sell any surplus power out of its 50% share to any state.
(ii) The profits earned from the sale of the balance 50% power will be shared between the state Government and GOI equally.
(g) The state Govt. will have the sole rights for development of fisheries and navigation in the reservoir created by the project.
It is clear from the draft that it was a win-win situation for JK State—half the share of power generated, and half the profit gain out of sale of the rest. By 1980s as Salal and Dul Hasti came up, there was a different recipe on offer—watered down proposals, a climb down from 1975 deal. Forgotten was a 50/50 share of power generated, 50/50 share of sale of the rest. No more of it, the terms and conditions could be gauged, as laid for Salal, Dul Hasti and Uri Hydro-Electrical Projects (HEP)s. The share of JK State shrunk to more or less 12%. The file containing the cabinet decision of 1975 is admittedly lost, however in replying to a RTI filed by civil society activists: Bashir Assad, Shakeel Qalander, Qurat-ul-Ain and others, the applicants in compliance with RTI Act 2009 were informed about the various agreements entered into from time to time with GOI’s subsidiary—NHPC by JK Power Development Department. The information was provided vide letter No: PDD/IV/87/201 Dated: 09-09-2011. Regarding DulHasti HEP it reads:
a) 15% of the generation of the capacity should be kept as “un-allocated” at the disposal of the Central Government to be distributed within the region or outside, depending on overall requirements;
b) The “Home” State i.e. where the project is located will be allocated 10% of the generating capacity. In addition, the “Home” State would be paid 1.5 paisa/Kwh for the energy generated by the power station. The “energy generated” figures for the purpose of payment of amount to be paid to the “Home” State will be calculated at the bus-bar level i.e. after discounting the auxiliary consumption, but without taking into account the transmission line losses;
c) The remaining (75%) would be distributed between the states of the region on the basis of Central Assistance given to various states in the region during the last 5 years and on the basis of consumption of States in the region in the last five years, the two factors being given equal weightage; and
d) The amount payable under (b) above will be reviewed after a period of 10 years”.
Dul Hasti was completed in 23 years while as in the normal run it should have taken 6-7 years. The project over-run cost the state dearly—a 12% loss out of a power generation of 390 Mw (roughly 32 Mw) taking 3 crore loss per Mw over a period 16 to 17 years.
The question remains, why the government needs a further probe, once a serving minister in 2011 (read Taj Mohi-ud-Din) participating in a seminar presided over by Muzafar Beg admitted having traced the reference to relevant to cabinet decision of 1975? Earlier too, a task force was constituted under chairmanship of Administrative Secretary General Administration department that included three additional secretaries (that of Power Development Department, General Administration Department, and Governor’s Secretariat). The conclusions of the task force were conveyed vide G.O No. 554-GAD of 2012 dated 22-5-2012. The task force ruled out any possibility of retrieval of cabinet decision. No responsibility could be fixed, it is stated that the records were around four decades old and no handing over/taking over of the records had taken place. The act of misplacement of records, as the government likes to label it appears to be motivated by vested interests. The label of ‘misplaced records’ does not fit the bill, what could well be a case of motivated displacement—a crime deserving to be traced by crime detecting agency of the state.
Nirmal Singh stating on floor of house that transfer of power projects is not agreeable to second party (NHPC) and adding that efforts are being made to convince it is mere eyewash. Return of power projects besides being implicit in 1975 cabinet decision was subsequently noted in clause IX of Uri HEP terms and conditions. Additionally execution of power projects by NHPC may not entail ownership, which is guided by article 256 (2) of constitution, pertaining to land use. It needs to be ascertained whether NHPC has abided by it?
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]