Goyal calls PDP’s bluff, yet again

When Mehbooba Mufti met Prime Minister Narendra Modi on March 23 paving the way for the relaunch of the PDP-BJP government, people in J&K presumed that her conditions had either been met or that the PM had promised progress on the Agenda of Alliance  once she took power. There was also an opinion that Mehbooba had got nothing for her three months of defiance and that she had agreed to form the government to pre-empt the presumed brewing rebellion against her in her party. 

Mehbooba had sought immediate action on the three things to create a fresh rationale for the ideologically divergent coalition in Kashmir. One, the vacation of the land illegally held by Army in the state, or else compensation at market rates, Second, announcement of two smart cities for J&K, one for Jammu and another for Srinagar. And the third, and which has been the PDP’s key demand,  is the return of one or two of the power projects owned by NHPC in the state.

But as the union power minister Piyush Goyal has once again made it clear, the centre has no plan to return any power project to the state.  Goyal not only ruled out transfer of NHPC projects to J&K but also denied  increasing the state’s power share from these projects.  The minister ruled out increase in power share to J&K from 12 to 25 percent arguing that the power projects are held by public listed companies and the power share of 12 per cent was same for all the states and given across the country as per norms of the private companies. Ironically, Goyal said that no state can be given a “special category” in profit share, thereby implying that J&K was not a special category state. The power minister also drew an equivalence between the demand of the J&K and those from the other states.

“States put forward lot of demands to the centre, but demands cannot be translated into decisions,”  Goyal said.

For the minister, the cause for the power deficit in the state  was the power theft by people. Solution to this, according to him, was that the people should cooperate in paying power bills, and act as whistle blower to expose people in the society, factory owners who resort to power thefts. “Then together we can resolve the issue of power deficit,” he said.

This shows the centre has no intention to return the power projects to the state and that the BJP is not serious about  its side of bargain in the Agenda of Alliance which obliges the party to work towards doing the same.  The Agenda of Alliance makes it clear that the two parties will  “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 promises securing “a share in the profits of NHPC emanating from J&K waters to the state government” and “revise all royalty agreements”.  But nothing of the sort seems to be happening.  As Goyal makes it clear, centre has gone back on everything.   For the centre, the NHPC’s ownership of the power projects in J&K is a fait accompli and nothing can change it.   But this is not what PDP thinks and what the people of J&K believe in. And people would expect the PDP to speak and hold BJP to its word. But the PDP’s silence or at best the unconvincing re-assurance has not helped the party’s image. It is time the PDPs spoke its mind.


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