NC-Cong approved 100 mw Solar Power Project in Kathua, then did nothing

Neeraj Rohmetra
page1-4JAMMU, Oct 27: It was the previous National Conference-Congress Government, which had allotted 100 mw Solar Photovoltaic Power Plant at Chann Arrorian in Kathua district in favour of M/s Then India Energy Private Limited while the present PDP-BJP Government on the directions of Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed had only accelerated the process for execution of the project as under the Central Government’s Solar Power Policy, 2013, the solar power projects had to be made functional within a period of three to six months.
Documents in possession with the Excelsior revealed that it was on April 9, 2013 when NC-Congress Government headed by then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah was in power that the project had been approved by the then Commissioner/Secretary to Government, Science and Technology Department, who happened to be the Chairman Project Approval Committee, in favour of M/s Then India Energy Private Limited, Chennai at an estimated cost of Rs 950 crores at 300 acres of land.
The Project Approval note had fixed six months deadline for commissioning of the power project.
However, according to official sources, the then Government didn’t follow the project, a result of which it remained pending till the new PDP-BJP Government took over and the Secretariat of Chief Minister Mufti Mohammad Sayeed, who was keen to improve power scenario in Jammu and Kashmir, shot off a letter to the Principal Secretary, Power Development Department on 31-7-2015 vide No. FC/PRS/HC/M/05, asking him to address the issues highlighted by M/s Then Energy India Limited and take all necessary steps to ensure that the first Solar Power Plant in the State is set-up as per schedule.
The letter signed by Madan Gopal Sharma, Deputy Director (P) from the Chief Minister’s Secretariat had pointed out that the PDD hadn’t signed the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with the development, which delayed the execution work.
Acting swiftly on the Chief Minister’s letter, Officer on Special Duty (OSD) to Deputy Chief Minister, Dr Nirmal Singh, Incharge Power and Development Department, had written to the Principal Secretary PDD on 6-8-2015 i.e. within six days of the CM’s letter inviting his attention to the letter written by the CM’s Secretariat and asking him to facilitate signing of PPA with the developer at the rates issued by State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC) so that 100 mw Solar Power Project, a first of its kind in the State, comes up without any further delay.
A section of media had today wrongly and with malafide intentions blamed the Deputy CM for trying to influence a bureaucrat to allot the Sloar Power Project without tenders while as the fact was that the project had been allotted way back in 2013 by the then NC-Cong Government.
Sources pointed out that it was, in fact, the Science and Technology Department, which was headed by Sajjad Gani Lone, which was the main department for execution of Solar Power Projects. An official note prepared by the Science and Technology Department also revealed that the Chief Minister had directed that a similar 100 mw Solar Power Project should also be developed in the Kashmir valley under the bundling scheme to make use of the cross subsidization.
The Power Development Department, they said, was a facilitator for issuing consent letter and signing power purchase agreement with the developer and had no other role in the Solar Power Project.
The Chief Minister had taken high level review meeting in Jammu on 22/4/2015 here in which he had reviewed functioning of the Science and Technology Department and asked the PDD to grid-connect two 100 mw Solar Power Projects, one each in Kashmir and Jammu, on pilot basis. He had also directed for incorporating solar power generation in the State’s Power Purchase Policy to promote renewable energy projects in the State.