Committee of senior bureaucrats fails to meet deadline for finalization of Hydro Power Policy

Mohinder Verma
JAMMU, Sept 9: Notwith-standing the fact that achievement with regard to harnessing potential for hydropower has remained dismal so far, a committee of senior bureaucrats constituted to give final shape to the draft State Hydroelectric Projects Development Policy has failed to meet the deadline fixed by the Government. Moreover, those at the helm of affairs in Jammu and Kashmir State Power Development Corporation are still not in a position to specify the time-frame for completion of this vital exercise.
As per the estimates of the State Government, J&K is bestowed with an estimated hydro-power potential of 20,000 Mega Watt out of which 16475 Mega Watt has already been identified by Central Electricity Authority (CEA). While so far only 3263.46 Mega Watt (16.3 % of estimated potential) has been exploited, the achievement with respect to harnessing of small-hydropower (up to 25 MW) has remained dismal.
Keeping all this in mind, the State Government had notified the policy for development of small hydropower projects in 2003 and J&K State Hydroelectric Projects Development Policy in 2011. But these two policies too failed to bring any perceptible change as far as harnessing of the potential is concerned.
Accordingly, it was found imperative to come up with a new policy that encompasses the learning of the past so many years so as to facilitate the partnerships with the private sector and focus on time-bound implementation of the hydropower projects in an environmentally sustainable manner. On the directions of the Government, the J&K State Power Development Corporation prepared a draft of the J&K Hydroelectric Projects Development Policy-2017 and the same was put in the public domain up to March 1, 2017 for receiving comments and suggestions.
After considering the comments and suggestions, the Power Development Corpor-ation approached the Power Development Department with the draft policy for approval. However, the Administrative Department found it appropriate to get the draft examined through all the stakeholders and accordingly made a request to the General Administration Department for formulation of a committee in this regard.
The General Administrat-ion Department vide Government Order No.820 dated June 29, 2017 constituted a committee to examine the draft of the policy. The committee headed by Chief Secretary and comprising of Administrative Secretaries of Power Development, Finance, Planning and Development, Public Health Engineering and Law Departments, Managing Director JKSPDC and Development Commissioner (Power) was directed to submit its recommendations within a period of one month.
“Though the committee held deliberations on the draft policy but failed to reach any conclusion within the time-frame mentioned in the Government order”, sources said, adding “the task which was to be finished by July 29, 2017 has not been completed even after the lapse of nearly three months. Moreover, the JKSPDC is still not in a position to specify the time-frame for completion of exercise by the committee”.
The committee had sought additional information on certain aspects and recommended some changes in the draft and JKSPDC has met the requirement of the committee, sources said while disclosing that no further meeting of the committee has been fixed so far.
Disclosing main highlights of the policy mentioned in the draft, sources said, “the policy is aimed at ensuring promotion of hydropower as an attractive economic enterprise to facilitate private sector investment”. Moreover, in the draft JKSPDC has proposed making pre-qualification process simpler and allotment of self-identified projects.
The other highlights of the draft policy are single-window system of clearance with Public Services Guarantee Act time limit, wide range of incentives to developers and rationalization of bid variables. “The main stress of the policy is environmental sustainability”, sources said.
The JKSPDC has proposed certain incentives for the developers like reduction in percentage of free power to 10%, exemption on free power for first 10 years and exemption from free power for the differential period of generation in case the developer completes/commissions the project before the scheduled date as agreed in the Letter of Agreement.
For State subject new comers/entrepreneurs for hydropower projects up to 25 MW various relaxations in qualification criteria have also been proposed. It has also been proposed that the projects awarded under this policy shall be exempted from the payment of water usage charges levied under the J&K Water Resources Regulation and Management Act.

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