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SC raises Himachal’s power share from Bhakra, Beas
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, September 27
Himachal Pradesh got a bonanza today as the Supreme Court substantially raised its share of electricity from the Bhakra and Beas hydro power projects with retrospective effect from 1966 in the case of Bhakra-Nangal and from the date of commissioning of Units I and II of Beas -- all at the cost of Punjab and Haryana.

From the Bhakra-Nangal project, Himachal would be entitled to an additional 6.095 per cent of the total production with effect from November 1, 1966 against 2.5 per cent it has been getting till now. If Rajasthan was excluded for the purpose of calculation, the state’s share would go up 7.19 per cent of the total power generated, while Chandigarh’s share would remain unchanged at 3.5 per cent.

From Beas I project, Himachal would get 5.752 per cent from the date of commissioning of the project against 15 MW being made available now. From Beas II, the hill state would get 2.984 per cent against ‘nil’ share now.

Under the SC verdict, delivered by a Bench comprising Justices RV Raveendran and AK Patnaik on the original suit filed by Himachal in 1996, Punjab’s share from the projects would go down from 54.5 per cent to 51.8 per cent and of Haryana from 39.5 per cent to 37.51 per cent.

The SC, however, declined Himachal’s demand for 12 per cent free power on the basis of the projects being located within its territory. The concept of 12 per cent free power from hydro stations to the “Mother State” or “Home State” was applicable only to central sector projects commissioned after September 7, 1990, the Bench noted.

The Bench directed the Centre to work out the details of the compensation to be paid to Himachal, in lieu of short supply all these years, under the verdict in accordance with provisions of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966.

The compensation would be charged to Punjab and Haryana and would carry 6 per cent interest from 1966 in the case of Bhakra and from the date of commissioning in respect of Beas I and II projects. The interest would have to be calculated till October 31, 2011. Himachal would start getting its decreed share of electricity from November 2011.

The Centre would have to calculate Himachal’s entitlements and liabilities within six months and file a statement in the SC. The matter would be listed after six months along with the Centre’s statement to enable the apex court to “make the final decree”.

The SC also directed Punjab and Haryana to pay Rs 5 lakh each to Himachal as cost to cover the expenses incurred by the hill state on fighting the case in the court. Justice Patnaik has written the 90-page verdict for the Bench.

The apex court pointed out that the minutes of the meeting held on April 17, 1967, between the Union Irrigation and Power Secretary with his counterparts from these states showed that Punjab and Haryana were allocated power on the basis of the “population ratio” of these states, while for Himachal it was done on “as is where is basis”.

However, “equal treatment warranted” that Himachal was allocated 7.19 per cent of the total power generated in the Bhakra-Nangal and Beas Projects, after excluding the power allocated to Rajasthan.

Further, considering the fact that Chandigarh was the capital of both Punjab and Haryana, these two states should meet the power requirements of the UT out of their share, the Bench ruled.

The Bench noted that HP had to come to the SC as the Centre had “failed” to determine the “lawful claim” of the hilly state. Even a joint meeting of all the parties held on August 30, 1995 under the aegis of the Principal Secretary of the PM could not arrive at “any agreement with tangible results”. In the absence of the final determination by the Centre, the power generated in the Bhakra-Nangal and Beas Projects are being shared under an ad hoc arrangement. The share of Rajasthan in the Bhakra-Nangal Project is 15.22 per cent and in the Unit I of the Beas Project is 20 per cent. From Unit II, it would get 58.50 per cent.

The SC observed that the purposes of the Bhakra-Nangal and Beas projects would have to be kept in mind while deciding the share of the successor states of Punjab. “The purposes of the Bhakra-Nangal Project, as evident from the agreement dated January 13, 1959 between the state of Punjab and the state of Rajasthan, were improvement or irrigation and generation of hydro-electric power,” the Bench said.

Entitlement after verdict

  • Punjab’s entitlement down from 54.5% to 51.8%; Haryana’s from 39.5% to 37.51%
  • Three-fold hike in Himachal’s share
  • Rajasthan, Chandigarh’s shares unchanged

Himachal’s crisis to ease

The Supreme Court verdict upholding the Himachal Pradesh’s claim to 7.19 per cent power share in BBMB projects will go a long way in easing the perennial financial crisis plaguing the state with an outstanding debt of over Rs 27,000 crore. P10

Punjab power tariff to go up

Punjab is heading for an increase in power tariff following the Supreme Court decision. Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) chairman KD Chaudhari said the power utility would have to go in for a marginal increase in the power tariff with its share in hydel projects going down.





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