Ruchika M Khanna
Chandigarh, May 25
An inter-state dispute is imminent as the HP Government has made its intentions clear of taking over of the Punjab Government’s Shanan project in Mandi. Punjab has refused to give up the project. Digging in its heels after Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann received a letter from his Himachal counterpart on May 17, Punjab said it was unfair that an already settled matter was being raked up now.
Sources in the Chief Minister’s Office said Mann was refuting any claim of the neighbouring hill state on the hydro project through a DO letter to be sent to Sukhu. “The hydro project was given to Punjab as per Section 48, sub-clause 1 of the Punjab Reorganisation Act. The ending of 99-year-old lease that HP Government is referring to, becomes null and void after Independence. The lease was made in the year 1935 before India became an independent nation. This is an already settled issue with the Government of India admitting on two occasions that the project belongs to Punjab,” said Power Minister Harbhajan Singh ETO.
The Shanan project (Uhl river hydro electric project) is believed to be worth Rs 1,600 crore and it generates 110 MW of power. When it was built in 1932, it had an installed capacity of 48 MW. This was enhanced by the Punjab Government in 1982. It was on May 17 that the Punjab CM received a letter from his counterpart Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu wherein the latter stated that the 99-year-old lease of the project and its assets given to Punjab by the then ruler of Mandi, Raja Joginder Singh Bahadur, was to come to an end on March 2, 2024. Over the years, this had become a political issue in the hill state and was also raised and escalated in 1969 and later in 1977 when Shanta Kumar was the HP CM.
“The HP Government has decided not to renew/extend the lease period of the project. It will soon deploy a team of engineers to take over the Shanan power project (110MW) along with all assets from Punjab State Power Corporation Limited. It would also seek cooperation of the Punjab Government to pass instructions to the power utility,” states Sukhu’s letter.
The Punjab Power Minister said he visited the project site at Jogindernagar on April 10 where residents complained about the HP Government’s refusal to build roads in the area.
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