In what could dent the image of Congress further in the state, a senior leader of the party has accused New Delhi of having played ‘dirty politics’ during Congress rule to safeguard the interests of National Hydro Power Project NHPC in Jammu and Kashmir.
Senior state Congress leader and former Irrigation and Flood Control minster Taj Mohi-ud-Din cautioned PDP patron Mufti Mohammad Sayed to remain vigilant about what he said, the ‘ill designs’ of the Corporation, saying they (NHPC) were invoking the so called ‘nationalism’ chord in New Delhi to suppress the Kashmir mainstream leaders seeking power houses back.
Talking to KNS, Taj who took everyone by surprise in 2010 by taking NHPC head-on, accused the home ministry, particularly the then home minster P. Chidmabaram of victimizing him for digging the facts regarding the ‘lost’ file of agreement on Salal Project. “Though Jammu and Kashmir is part of India, still it (New Delhi) was treating the Kashmiris as aliens when it comes to the rights and descent. Any Kashmiri leader who raises descent is branded as anti-nationalist in approach and is being marginalized,” he told KNS.
“In a way, the stand of separatists is vindicated that New Delhi has set different rules for Jammu and Kashmir and the rest of the India. I was not only marginalized but victimized by the then home minster and his ministry for launching a tirade against NHPC,” the senior Congress leader claimed.
“The way I was treated within my own party after my initiatives to trace the lost fie on Salal power project is the testimony of the fact that GoI was never serious in handing over the power projects back to the state,” asserted Taj, adding that huge conspiracies were being hatched by NHPC in New Delhi against the Kashmiri leaders to thwart any move aiming the return of power projects.
“None of the agreements between NHPC and state government give ownership to NHPC and as per agreements, they have to transfer the projects back to the state government after a fixed time. But unfortunately they don’t do that, neither is GoI willing to make them do so,” Taj said and claimed his recent loss in elections was ‘engineered’ by NHPC and New Delhi to marginalize him further.
He, however, said that he has finally been able to set the records straight even if numerous attempts were made to stop him from reconstructing the agreement file on various power projects.
“It is a complete build up case now. Cabinet has given its approval to seek back the Salal and Uri-1 project from NHPC. It has even agreed to approach Supreme Court if NHPC shows reluctance in handing over the projects on depreciation cost,” claimed Taj, who was removed as I&FC minster in 2012 amid reports of infighting in the state Congress.
The former minster claimed that he was removed to safeguard the interests of NHPC in state and the then home minster P Chidambarm was behind the move.
“Then Chief Minister Omar Abdullah told me several times that he was removed on the directions of the home ministry and he had no option but to concede to the Congress demand,” Taj claimed ad said that as per the agreement, NHPC has to handover the Salal and Uri 1 project on depreciation cost and the money was available with the state government.
“I raised Rs 2,400 crore by levying water tax on NHPC and the same amount is deposited in a separate bank account by enactment of law after seeking cabinet approval. They can use it to buy back power projects and start new projects of their own,” he claimed, saying that he knew, state was running through financial crises and the money could be diverted to some other head, so he brought an enactment with the approval of cabinet to keep money in a separate account that could be used only for the power projects.
Taj said that the all Mufti Mohammad Syed after assuming charge would have to do is to curtail the interference of the NHPC at home ministry level.
“Mufti sahib has the built-up case, I had to put the fragments together and even face the humiliating victimization from my own party, but I did what was my job to do. It is up to Mufti Sb. Now, how he takes it forward,” he said, cautioning that given the experience he has been through, in dealing with the affair, the matter would not be too easy to deal with for PDP patron.
Taj, however, said that Mufti has the liberty to seek Supreme Court intervention as the cabinet has already agreed for the same. He also said the file was lying with the advocate general.