CPI(M) legislator from Theog, Himachal Pradesh, Rakesh Singha, has written a letter addressed to Chief Minister Jairam Thakur red-flagging the alleged merger of the state’s Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam (SJVN) Ltd. with National Thermal Power Company (NTPC).
In the letter, Singha, has drawn the attention of the Chief Minister to talks doing the rounds of the proposed merger.
"You must be aware,there is news going around of the merger of SJVNL with NTPC. I wish it is only a rumour, but if it is a fact the government must take it seriously and take steps to stop such a move as it is against the interests of Himachal Pradesh and it's people”, says the letter. A similar proposition was rejected in state’s assembly session in 2017.
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is a mini ratna, Category-I and Schedule –‘A’ Central Public Sector Enterprises (CPSE) under administrative control of the Union Ministry of Power. It was incorporated on May 24, 1988 as a joint venture of the Government of India (GOI) and the Government of Himachal Pradesh (GOHP).
It began with a single project and single state operation- India’s largest 1500 MW Nathpa Jhakri Hydro Power Station in Himachal Pradesh. The present installed capacity of SJVN is 2002.6 MW comprising three more projects- Rampur Hydro Power Station (412 MW), Khirvire Wind Power Project (46.7 MW) and Charanka Solar PV Power Plant (5 MW) -- other than the Nathpa Jhakri Hydro Electric Power Plant. It has a footprint in hydroelectric projects in Uttarakhand and in neighbouring Nepal and Bhutan as well.
With respect to the hydro power projects under NHPC and NTPC in Himachal Pradesh, Singha has mentioned that even though Himachal is a beneficiary of the NHPC and NTPC’s 800 MW Parvati Hydel Project and Kol Dam projects respectively, it receives nothing.
“...How the Union government treats Himachal Pradesh,can be judged from the fact, the state only receives 15 megawatt electricity from the Dhear power house in slapper, one and a half percent of the revenue generated from Bhakra, a big zero percent from Kol dam of NTPC and Parvati hydel project of NHPC ,apart from the statutory 12 percent recommended by the Ranga Rajan commission for hydel projects constructed after 1990,” says the letter.
Whereas SJVNL’s 1,500 MW Nathpa Jhakri Hydro Electric Power plant has been designed to generate 6950.88 MU of electrical energy in a 90% dependable year with 95% machine availability. It currently provides 1,500 MW of peaking power to the Northern Grid- Haryana, Uttarakhand, HP, J&K, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Rajasthan, Chandigarh and Delhi -- and out of the total energy generated at the bus bar, 12% is supplied free of cost to the home state i.e. Himachal Pradesh. From the remaining 88% energy generation, 25% is supplied to HP at bus bar rates.
Besides the above mentioned benefits, indirect benefits have also accrued to the region of Nathpa (where the project is located), in the tribal district of Kinnaur, by way of increase in agriculture and industrial production. In addition, the project has provided gainful employment to a large number of skilled and unskilled workers and has also opened the landlocked hinterland by providing essential facilities, such as schools, hospitals etc. for the people of the area.
Singha, in his letter has further mentioned that it is only in this project that the state has an equity of 25% and it is placed better in providing employment to the people of the state to both NTPC and NHPC. He has warned that if any move is made to destroy it’s character, it will be met with strong resistance by the people of the state. “....It is only in the SJVNL that we have 25 percent equity in the 1500 mw nathpa jhakri hydel project. In respect to providing employment to the people of the state it is better placed to both NTPC and NHPC. Any move to destroy the character of the SJVNL would be resisted by the people of the state.”
Why such a merger is likely to take place, considering that the SJVNL is not running losses, is still unknown.
“The Government is still silent on this issue. First and foremost, NTPC specialises in dealing with thermal energy and not hydro energy. Why the Union Government tries to propose it’s merger every year is still not clear. It can only be assumed that it’s the BJP’s attempt to privatise such a project”, Singha told Newsclick.
Asked why he has used the word “rumour” in his letter, he told Newsclick, “Something of this sort was proposed last year also, but the idea was opposed in the Vidhan Sabha itself. I have deliberately used the word rumour to let the CM know that the attempt to merge it silently is in fact known and it should be taken as a stern warning against any such merger.”
Singha is expected to meet the Chief Minister over the same in the coming week as the issue is expected to create a huge stir if the proposed merger comes into being.