The point he missed

There is no other state in the country bound by the Indus Water Treaty as Jammu and Kashmir is.
The point he missed
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The Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal  gave us some homilies about the  power projects  across the country  and how the share of the  states  is determined wherever National Hydro-Electric Projects  Corporation    is running the projects. So, Jammu and Kashmir  cannot claim any special entitlement. Besides, he clarified in no uncertain terms that there was no question of returning the NHPC- run projects to this state.

There is no other  state in the country  bound by the Indus Water Treaty  as Jammu and Kashmir is. Punjab's rivers are controlled  by it  and it is the beneficiary. Jammu and Kashmir has very limited rights, and its waters have enriched Pakistan purely because of the IWT. Despite these limitations,  J&K could have performed much better  than it did  or did not.  The state  took everything for granted. No effort  was ever made to utilize the water resources in a manner that would have benefitted the state and enriched its potential in other sectors, especially industries.  It is  a painful chapter in the economic and political history of Jammu and Kashmir.

 Apart from the political turmoil and the uncertainty that this state offered to itself and to outsiders, its water resources were underutilized. Those were not utilized by the state at all  is a better statement. This tells us that how unimaginative  policy makers and the political leadership we have had. Now, when there  is  a drastic decline in the water resources  because of the climate change, political patronage to encroaches of the water bodies  and  greater demand of ever-growing larger population, the water  has become a big source of contest. 

Mr. Goyal  should have known that Jammu and Kashmir is  both a special status and special category state. He should have also known that twice C. Rangrajan Committee had recommended that the state should be returned at least two of its power projects. He should have also known that during the  discussions on Agenda of the Alliance  between PDP and BJP on the government formation, the power projects were under the  broad spotlight : second time,  when there was a re-assessment of the  AoA before  Mehbooba Mufti agreed to become  the Chief  Minister, these projects were  in the core items ; there was  also an unspoken  and unwritten agreement that J&K would get much larger share – to be exact 25 per cent -of the power generated  from these projects if those were to stay with NHPC.

And, if  Mr. Goyal is not aware of  all this, he should ask the people who negotiated and re-negotiated the AoA in  early months of 2015 and 2016.  BJP's  national general secretary Mr. Ram Madhav  should  come out   with  details of the negotiations.  A frame of trust that was sought to be built anew  before  the PDP-BJP  reaffirmed their faith in each other  has been shaken, and shaken very badly. It is being as blunt as  Mr. Goyal was.

One would agree that  NHPC invested thousands of crores  of rupees,  and like any  investor it  must have been looking for profits. That is given..  But what is not given is that the NHPC cannot  determine the share  of Jammu and Kashmir  the way it was done decades ago.  An expected answer is that the NHPC came with its  money and expertise  and entered the J&K  with   agreement with the state governments of the time  and most importantly, it has delivered on its promise of  12 per cent royalty.  It also cannot be  held responsible for  non-utilisation  of its  water resources  by the state  in spite of the Indus Water Treaty of 1960.  There was a much larger scope to utilize the  resources. It can also point out that  the state government could not  run Baglihar project – its first mega project. The NHPC had to be requested to run it in 2009. It   also is a fact that Baglihar project is an epitome of high corruption – all political parties and governments  had their pound of flesh from the contractors who   constructed the project. The poor quality of material used in the construction of the dam  was revealed when  it could not withstand the flash floods in early 2005. It is a disaster-threatening dam.

Having said that, the NHPC cannot   ignore the new realities in Jammu and Kashmir. If it doesn't want to return the projects, it is duty bound to enhance the power share of the state. This is not an economic but political necessity too, the contours and content of which  are best known to the party  Mr. Goyal belongs to. In  case of any doubt, please refer to Dr Haseeb Drabu.

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