RTI Head flays NHPC Refusal To Provide Details

Srinagar—Chairperson J&K RTI Movement, Dr. Shaikh Ghulam Rasool Wednesday said that J&K RTI Movement is deeply disturbed by the secrecy that continues to plague the negotiations between J&K Government and the Government of India about the return of hydel-projects to J&K.

He said the refusal of the Central Information Commission (CIC) to direct NHPC Ltd. to disclose details of the negotiations under the Central RTI Act, is another deadly blow to J&K’s long standing demand for control over their natural resources.

NHPC’s argument before the CIC that disclosing information about the negotiations will lead to speculation and confusion among shareholders is highly condemnable.

Data available on NHPC’s website indicates that close to 90% of its shares are owned by the Government of India directly or through public sector financial institutions.

Unfortunately, the CIC has bought NHPC’s specious arguments lock stock and barrel to deny people of J&K their fundamental right to know the details of the negotiations for return of the hydel projects.

J&K RTI Movement calls upon the J&K Government to immediately publicise all correspondence it has conducted with the Government of India till date about the return of the hydel projects as per the terms of the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in July, 2000.

Under the MoU, seven hydel projects, namely, Kishanganga, Uri-II, Bursar, Sewa-II, Pakal Dul, Nimmo Bazgo and Chutak were transferred to NHPC for funding, execution and operation for a period of 10 years,. Both Governments had agreed to work out a mutually acceptable methodology for handing over these power projects to J&K after a decade.

In July 2014, the Government of India replied to. Mehbooba Mufti’s un-starred Question (# 2194) raised in the Lok Sabha that it had not “received any proposal from the Government of J&K for the return of hydel projects that have earned more than their investment cost or for the re-negotiation of terms and conditions with the NHPC.”

The Chief Minister has been in power for almost two years. Ms. Mufti now has the power to publicly declare whether her Government has written to the Government of India demanding the return of hydel projects and make all that correspondence public.

The Three Interlocutors appointed by the UPA Government in 2010 recommended the return of all Central power projects in the State to the J&K Government as a confidence building measure. However, both the past and present occupants of the post of Minister for Power in the Government of India have publicly stated that this recommendation has been rejected, without providing detailed reasons. On the other hand, NHPC has claimed that the issue has not been resolved yet.

NHPC has stated before the CIC that disclosure of details of the negotiations is not in the public interest. J&K RTI Movement is perplexed by these contradictory claims.

“Only J&K Government can resolve this contradiction by opening up its files about the ongoing negotiations,” he said.

Data obtained under RTI has shown that during the first 15 years of this century, NHPC has earned close to Rs. 200 billion by selling power produced from the waters of J&K.

Meanwhile the State Government is compelled to buy between 19-20% of the power generated in J&K from NHPC projects at market rates in addition to shelling out taxpayers’ money to buy electricity from the Central pool. According to publicly available data, while J&K is buying atomic power from plants situated in Rajasthan, hydel power generated in J&K is being supplied to that State.

J&K RTI Movement urges the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti to direct the appropriate authorities in her Government to disclose all information about securing the return of hydel projects to J&K.

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