Author: The Speaking Chinar
•9:32 PM

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is to inaugurate the 240 Mega Watts Uri-II Hydroelectric Project in Baramulla district of Kashmir, on July 4th. It was CM Omar Abdullah, who during his meeting with Modi on 20th June had urged the PM to inaugurate this power project. Ironically yet, as with majority of other power projects in Kashmir, this project too will mean nothing but depravity for common Kashmiris. When the Indian PM inaugurates this power project, he is likely to claim about the ‘importance of such power projects for J&K’, which will be a contradiction to reality. 

Of the utilized generation capacities in J&K, NHPC controls and ‘owns’ a major chunk, more than two third. It not only maintains a monopoly over power generation in the state, but extends this oppressive monopoly by paying a meager 12% royalty to the state, in contrast to much higher power royalty it pays elsewhere. From all projects NHPC operates across India, almost half of its power generation comes from J&K alone (2009 MW from seven projects here and more generation to follow), majority of its profits, almost 50%, coming from this state. Add to the tragic irony, NHPC then sells back some of the same power that it generates from J&K to the state at far higher prices, thereby not only vandalizing water resources of the state but also making the state pay thru its nose for this loot.  

The extent of this loot by Indian NHPC, nicknamed the ‘East India Company’ in Kashmir, was further exposed when an RTI filed in 2009 revealed that ‘NHPC was generating electricity illegally in Kashmir’. Came to fore that out of the total 14 projects handed over to NHPC during the regime of then CM Farooq Abdullah in 2000, MoU had only been signed in 7 projects, while major other power projects had been grabbed by them without any formal agreement.  

This East India Companystarted in J&K with the Salal project, while this power project was itself started in 1973, NHPC was formed in 1975. As per decision of the J&K state cabinet (537 taken on 15 December 1980) it was conveyed to GOI that NHPC should be allowed to go ahead with the project, provided it agreed to share the generated power & profits with the state on a 50-50 basis. Contrary to this, the state has been till date only getting 12% (at times even that 12% is denied under the excuse of low generation). Also per rules the state should have been handed over the project in 2003 after the stipulated depreciation period was over and against a payment of 10% of the project cost (the JKSE Act 1971), which again was defaulted on and refused by NHPC. Later strangely many of the files within J&K government related to Salal project and NHPC were reported missing, including draft agreement, land transfer / lease records between J&K govt & NHPC and files regarding transfer of Salal to J&K govt. No strange coincidence, this not only pointed to foul play at the highest level but also to a systematic erosion of local governance systems by New Delhi. No wonder then, all attempts by the state authorities to get back Salal project, being pathetically halfhearted, have failed. 

If power loot from J&K was not the only thing NHPC indulged into, it has also been flouting other agreements on job creation for locals. According to reports, NHPC has been denying locals employment opportunities in the corporation, putting them only in menial labor jobs. Ideally NHPC is supposed to take 50 percent staff from the state (as per 1975 orders), another agreement it has been flouting brazenly. 

Uri-II is one of seven projects in J&K undertaken by the Government of India under the much touted ‘Prime Minister’s Reconstruction Plan (PMRP)’, an Rs 19,000 crore power generation plan part of the earlier Prime Minister’s ‘Economic Reconstruction Programme’ that was used to fund NHPC under the garb of helping J&K. This ‘Economic Reconstruction Program’ never reached the state exchequer, instead went to the NHPC for developing power projects that only supply electricity to Indian northern grid from the waters of Kashmir. ‘Chankya politics’ of deceit at its best by New Delhi. 

Controlling power generation projects and water resources in Kashmir is seen as a geo strategic tool used by India at the cost of common Kashmiris. Some years ago when J&K government had secured IFI (International Financial Institutions) funding for various hydroelectric projects including the Kishenganga project in north Kashmir, New Delhi refused to give the required counter guarantees for such funding. Not surprisingly Kishenganga project (330 MW) was later gifted to NHPC on the same old exploitative terms.

When Mr. Modi inaugurates the Uri-II project, accompanying pro Delhi politicians from Kashmir shall stand close by, hands folded in subservience, only to be momentarily raised in applause, cheering more loot by Indian corporations here. Hollow rhetoric has for long been used by politicians to deceive commoners in Kashmir. These politicians, like faithful appointees of New Delhi, will not dare speak up for our rights in front of PM Modi, nor push for return of our power projects. Incidentally the site of Uri-II is not far from Uri-I where in January 2012 a youth was shot dead and two critically injured by Indian CISF, when locals were protesting against lack of electricity in their villages; same villages where NHPC was generating electricity from, only to export to mainland India. Neither electricity nor justice for this killing was ever delivered to these villagers.  

Last February CM Omar claimed "NHPC was supposed to build Dul-Hasti-II but it will now be implemented through JV so will be Uri-II," Contrary to his claims, not only had NHPC completed Uri-II by then, the project had already started generation many months ago. 

Modi coming to Kashmir brings no ‘acche dinn’ for the commoners here, but only a continuity of ‘bahut acche dinn’ for ‘East India Companies’ like NHPC and New Delhi’s appointees here, who only thrive on our exploitation. 

New Delhi
30th June, 2014 

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