2350 crore claim from NHPC

State Government has laid claim to 2350 crore rupees from NHPC because of violation of an agreement vide State Cabinet decision No. 238 of June 21, 1975. The agreement between the Union Ministry of Power and the State Government pertained to the Salal hydroelectric power project. But the bizarre thing about the agreement is that the Cabinet decision in question is misplaced and not available. Copies of a Cabinet decision are usually preserved in the records at several places including the office of the Governor, Cabinet Secretariat, General Administration Department and the file. Strangely no copy of the Cabinet decision is available with any one of the offices where they are supposed to have been preserved. How come an important document is missing from all the relevant repositories of the Secretariat? It smells rat.
Many questions can be raised. First of all is there any truth in the misplacement story or is it just manipulation to lay claim to damages and at the same time feign misplacement of relevant documents? If the documents are not traceable anywhere, how would the Government claim such and such conditions were laid down in the agreement? It could be a tell-tale transmitted by word of mouth by somebody who happened to have read the agreement and its clauses. The agreement was signed in 1975. That was the time when Sheikh Muhammad Abdullah was at the helm of power for the second time. Naturally the agreement in question assumes greater significance. The Government today led by the NC has every reason to believe that the agreement in question would have taken into account the larger interests of the State. Since he had returned to power as a sequel to Indira-Sheikh Accord, obviously the Union Government would have been munificent towards to the State and its Chief Minister of the day. This strengthens the claim of the present Government that conditions and clauses were all conducive.
Which is the agency one can indict for playing the spoilsport? If the misplacement or disappearance of the documents from all destinations is the truth, then the onus can come to two actors. One would be the Union Ministry of Power because it might have second thoughts about huge concessions made to the state in the context of Salal Project. The second actor would be a combine of those officials of the PDD and bureaucrats who were dealing with the financial aspect of the project. Was there any large scale embezzlement in huge funds provided to the prestigious project called Salal? This question never came up at any stage and no allegations to this effect were made at least officially. In private many things can be said albeit without substantiation.
It is unimaginable that the Union Ministry of Power has approach, access or mechanism to sabotage the Cabinet decision even if that went against its interests. It should be clear that the Union Ministry of Power would not give its consent to a mega project like Salal unless it had sought clearance from the Union Cabinet. Union cabinet’s decisions are essentially in the interests of the nation, and as such, the question of having concluded an imbalanced agreement does not arise at all. Such big deals are not done in a huff either by the State Government or the Central Government. Therefore even the remotest possibility of the Union Ministry of Power having a hand in the misplacement of documents is preposterous.
If an episode of this nature has taken place, all attention has to be mounted on those who were running the project on the ground and were handling its financial affairs. Government’s decision to constitute a Task Force to go into the circumstances under which important documents have disappeared from their vaults should be able to place the finger on the culprits. In any case, on the surface of it, this looks like a deep-rooted conspiracy, and its dramatic personae seem to be not only shrewd but also very resourceful.
If the evidence of a huge loss incurred by the government owing to violation of the clauses of the agreement is forthcoming, this will have far-reaching impact on power situation in the State. In that case the State Government should pursue the matter with all seriousness and speed, and the roadmap for retrieving the losses and ensuring supply of power in future in accordance with the terms of the agreement will bring much wanted relief to the power hungry State. We do understand that the broad terms of the agreement in question could be precisely the same as has been reflected in the report of the Cabinet Sub-Committee. The Government has adopted the right course of action and the Task Force will ultimately fix the responsibility.


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