The state and central government has landed into a stand-off over the implementation of three major power project on Chenab basin as the state government is uncompromising on the ownership issue. The three projects have a cumulative installed capacity of 3580 MWs and involves a cost of more than Rs 40,000 crores, official sources said.
Though both the governments are keen for early implementation of the projects, the real crisis that dogged a final deal was the ownership. The issues were on table in a meeting between the union power secretary Amarjit Singh and a group of state minsters and the power bureaucracy of the state.
Routinely, the state government would require almost Rs 12000 crores for managing its 30 percent equity part. Knowing fully well, the state’s resource issues, Delhi is willing to chip in but the state is unwilling to give up the ownership. It has said that it is unwilling to work with the NHPC for obvious reasons and history.
The three projects on table include 850 MW Ratle, 1856 MW Sawlakot and 930 MW Karthie.
Delhi has various options in its basket. On is that the 30 percent equity of the state will be equally bifurcated: 15 percent will be taken by the 15 CPSUs and 15 percent will be transfer of resources by the central government on state’s behalf. In this case, the state will be given the full rights to manage the projects. The other option offered to the state government is that there will be separate Joint Ventures almost on similar basis. The ownership part will be shared by the state and the centre and later the full ownership will be transferred to the state government.
The state government is unwilling. It has suggested that if the central government should transfer resources to the tune of 30 percent of the projects cost to the state government and trust state government to implement them. The other option is that the central government should transfer half of the resources of the 30 percent equity of state government to the state and permit it to get private developers into the scene who will partner for the balance 15 percent equity. The rest 70 percent will be market barrowings as is the norm.
The state government said that the state owned Power Development Corporation has evolved into a major player in the hydropower and has acquired enough of experience in managing major projects. PDC owns and runs and 900 MW Baglihar successfully.
Informed sources said the negotiations will be taken forward so that the three major projects are implemented at the earliest. On power issues, state and the central government are running a festering dispute. Though the transfer of some NHPC projects to the state government has been part of the ruling coalition’s Agenda of Alliance, there has not been any forward movement on the issue even after the coalition completed three years of its six year term.
The group of minsters which had a detailed interaction was led by Deputy Chief Minister Dr Nirmal Singh, also in-charge of power. It also had ministers from forests, finance, PWD and Transport as its members. Sources offered no idea about the follow up but hoped it would at the earliest.