The National Hydroelectric Power Corporation (NHPC) has earned Rs 194 billion over the past 15 years from the seven power projects it is running in the Jammu and Kashmir, a revelation that has now snowballed into a major political issue in the state.
It has given a fresh impetus to the longstanding public and political demand that NHPC return a few of its power projects in line with its original agreement with the state government.
The numbers were revealed by NHPC in response to an RTI application filed by the non-governmental J&K RTI Movement.
“The NHPC has earned Rs 194 billion from the sale of power generated by the hydroelectric power projects based in J&K,” NHPC said in its reply. The Corporation has generated 1,15,636 million units of power from these projects.
The J&K Government alone has paid Rs 41 billion to buy 19.7 per cent of the power generated by the NHPC-run power projects in the state.
The NHPC’s power projects in the state are Salal, Uri-I, Dul Hasti, Sewa-II, Uri-II, Chutak and Nimmo Bazgo.
The revelation has fed to the politics over power in the state which panders to an entrenched public grievance about the exploitation of the state’s water resources.
“The RTI reveals the grave injustice done to J&K”, the Kashmir Centre for Social Development Studies, a civil society group said in a statement. The group said the NHPC has grown immensely over the years. “From an initial Rs 200 crore in 1975, its investment base has enhanced to over Rs 38,718 crores as of 2010 with an authorized share capital of Rs 15,000 crore”.
The National Conference which is otherwise blamed for gifting away the projects to NHPC also took a position. The opposition party said the figure is “self-speaking” about quantum of losses J&K suffered at the hands of NHPC. “We tried our best to get back these projects from NHPC during our tenure but did not succeed,” NC spokesperson Agha Ruhullah said.
The return of the power projects from NHPC has long been an emotional political issue in J&K and draws from a deep sense of victimhood originating from Indus Water Treaty, seen as unfair to the state.
The treaty signed in 1960 gave Pakistan lower riparian rights over J&K’s three rivers – Jhelum, Chinab, Indus – while India kept its Punjab rivers –Sutlej, Beas, Ravi. Under the treaty, Kashmir can only build run-of-the-river projects on its rivers to fulfil its energy needs.
From NHPC’s projects in the state, J&K gets a meagre 12 percent free power as royalty which works out to be as little as 200 MWs at peak time. J&K’s own peak power generation is around 780 MWs while its demand is 2150 MW in summer and around 2300MW in winter. This has rendered JK a perennially power-deficient state with the situation getting more desperate in winter.
Adding to this grievance is NHPC’s projects in states Uttarakhand, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh and the North East where the electricity generated is equally shared between the power corporation and the states.
Return of the power projects was one of the major demands made by the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti while she was holding out against the centre over the three months. Incidentally, the two parties have already agreed in their Agenda of Alliance that the steps will be taken for the return of a few of these power projects to the state.
The Agenda of Alliance says that the PDP-BJP regime would “explore modalities for transfer of Dulhasti and Uri hydro power projects to J&K as suggested by the Rangarajan Committee Report and the Round Table reports”.
It also called for the revision of all “royalty agreements”. But so far, nothing has been done. BJP has been silent over the issue adding to unease in the state.