Power Games
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Power Games

It could be stated that power projects are being held in violation of JK’s stated ties with the Indian nation, in violation of constitutional propriety, as also in violation of agreements entered into and communications thereof.

GOI power minister—Piyush Goyal last week spelt it out yet again, no return of power projects and power share to stay on 12 percent. He said it last year also while visiting the valley, feeling safe to pronounce it, given the fact of might of the Indian nation state. The might would make it sink, whatever the projections to contrary, however might may not be taken as right. The right in case of JK power projects is not with Indian nation state. It could be stated that power projects are being held in violation of JK's stated ties with the Indian nation, in violation of constitutional propriety, as also in violation of agreements entered into and communications thereof.

JK, Piyush Goyal implied, would be treated like any other state of India. And, JK would have to live with same terms and conditions, as applied to other states of India. The line often repeated that JK is like any other state of India has been taken as a gospel truth, notwithstanding the fact that text of JK's relationship with Indian nation state states otherwise. JK has acceded and not merged with Indian Union.  Even the mainstreamer Omer Abdullah stated as CM on floor of JK legislative assembly that JK has acceded and not merged in Indian Union of States. Thus, contrary to what Piyush Goyal states, JK cannot be treated like any other Indian state. The accession has limited clauses; it is temporary, and subject to the final resolution of the dispute. Moreover asserting ownership rights on natural assets of JK state is not a part of accession deal.  

Piyush Goyal would do well to look at the files in his own ministry to ascertain facts. Letter No: PD/IV/243/72 dated:-21.07.1975 addressed to ministry of energy conveys JK Government cabinet decision No: 328 of 21-06-1975 implying 50% power share to the state out of power projects fully funded by GOI, 50% share out of profits made from the sale of what is left after state gets its share of 50%. And, more important, the clause that implies ownership of the projects reverting back to the state Government after a suitable period on payment of depreciated cost in accordance with the J&K electricity act 1971. That the original file holding the related cabinet decision was lost is a sordid tale, too foul to relate. The reference to it was however found in another file, the record thus stays of how JK entered into power deal with GOI. 

GOI made its subsidiary NHPC the agency of executing and holding the deal. The listed company thus became what former irrigation minister—Taj Mohi-ud-Din called the 'East India Company' implying the company subsequently did all that the British company used to do. 1975 deal implying 50% power share plus 50% profit out of sale of the rest was whittled down to mere 12% in subsequent deals with pliant regimes in JK state and instead of JK state getting 50% profit out of sales, the state was made to pay for additional power, it might require. Presently the state pays 4000 crores plus for buying additional power supplies to feed consumers, virtually amounting to buying what might well be your own produce. 

NHPC, it is widely alleged is operating in violation of article 256(2) and JK electricity act. Article 256(2) is yet again JK state specific clause which refutes what Piyush Goyal implies that JK could be treated like any other state of India. Clause (2) of article 256 is included in part XI of May 14, 1954 Presidential Order. It entails the state acquiring property on behalf and at the expanse of Union or if the property belongs to the State transfer it to the Union. The implication is clear; state may acquire the property such as land, if required for execution of a project by central agencies. The clause is purpose specific and may not entail ownership on a permanent basis, as specified in JK Government cabinet decision No: 328 of 21-06-1975, wherein reversion of ownership of power projects is clearly implied, which could be construed as being in tune with J&K electricity act.  

Besides the specified clauses stated above, clause IX of Uri power project agreement entails return of the power project, it specifies, 'The State Government may buy back the project or a part there, if and when it is in a position to do so, after paying the depreciated cost of the same.' GOI appointed working groups and Rangarajan led task force suggested transferring power project to the state. Rangarajan recommended return of Dulhasti. Before the present coalition took over after 2014 assembly elections, an 'Agenda of Alliance' was framed. It included a commitment on return of power projects. Lo and behold! Here you have a BJP minister—Piyush Goyal backing out of what his party has agreed to. This is yet another evidence of Delhi's breach of trust, the widening breach ever since 1953, when rollback of solemn pledges was initiated. The breach continues to widen, notwithstanding what Finance Minister Haseeb Drabu might say on talks continuing with GOI on return of power projects.

Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]
(Author is a doctor in medicine, a social activist and senior columnist)
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