SRINAGAR: The NHPC has disclosed it earned Rs 19431 crores from seven power projects in Jammu and Kashmir, putting pressure on Mehbooba Mufti-led government to wrest back control of two key projects from the corporation, a key component of the PDP-BJP's agenda of alliance.

The disclosure has again sparked the discourse over the exploitation of the state's rich hydropower resources by the corporation, one of the touchy issues in Jammu and Kashmir as the corporation is seen as acting as 'East India Company' to loot the economically downtrodden state's natural resources.

In reply to an RTI filed by Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and J&K RTI Movement, the corporation disclosed to have earned Rs 19431 crores by selling 115636 million units of power generated from seven power projects in Jammu and Kashmir between January 2001 to March 2016.

Interestingly, the cash-starved J&K paid the corporation Rs 4107 crores to buy 19.7 percent of power generated from these projects with Punjab emerging as the leading buyer of J&K's power.

The NHPC is presently generating 2009 MW from its seven power projects in the state which is almost half of the energy the power giant generates from its projects in other states.

On the other hand, J&K's power generation capacity is 1210 MW with the completion of the second phase of the Baglihar hydropower project in Jammu.

The local generation is however far below the demand of over 2600 MW that forces the state to import the energy from the northern grid and other power subsidiaries.

According to officials, the J&K government has purchased power worth Rs 30,000 crore over the last ten years, putting extreme burden on the state exchequer.

In 2011, the state government constituted sub-committee had recommended that J&K should review the pact with the NHPC on all power projects and buy back two power projects, 690-MW Salal and 480-MW Uri-I project, at depreciated cost of Rs 2566 crores.

An official in state power department said the Government of India however rejected the proposal citing the move would set a precedence for other states to make similar demands.

When the PDP-BJP government came to power in March 2015 in J&K, the buying back of the two power projects was incorporated as key feature of the agenda of alliance between the two parties which is a roadmap for running the state.

In the RTI reply, the union power ministry has, however, refused to share any information about any progress made by the state government and the Centre on buying back of power projects by J&K, citing commercial interests and saying the "issues is not yet resolved".

According to the RTI reply, the MoU, signed between the state government and NHPC, contains a clause requiring both parties to work out methodology for “handing over these projects to J&K government separately” and not “buyback” of these projects as has been reported in a section of the media.

(Photograph: The Nimoo Bazgo Power Project is a run-of-the-river power project on the Indus River situated at Alchi village, 75 kilometres (47 mi) from Leh in Jammu and Kashmir.)