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`UP CM selling out Uttaranchal’s resources’

Rajendra Bansal/Dehra Dun
Daily Pioneer, August 24, 2000

With the decks clearing for the formation of Uttaranchal State, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP from Garhwal Major General (Retd) Bhuwan Chandra Khanduri has raised objection at the handing over of the Srinagar (Garhwal) hydro-electric power project to the private sector, by the Uttar Pradesh Government.

In a letter to the State Chief Minister, Mr Khanduri has exhibited his displeasure and surprise over the Government’s move to sell out Uttaranchal’s hydro-electric power projects to the private sector at a time when the stage-setting for the creation of the new State was almost complete.

In a separate communication to Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee, Mr Khanduri has appealed to him to restrain the State Government from taking any decision on matters pertaining to Uttaranchal’s natural resources. In his letter to the Chief Minister, a copy of which was sent to State Energy Minister as well, Mr Khanduri has termed as “highly inappropriate” the handing over of the 330 MW Srinagar hydro-electric power project to Duncan North Hydro Power Company (DNHPC) by the Uttar Pradesh Government.

Questioning the move, the MP has asked the Uttar Pradesh Government that how it could take such policy decisions (on Uttaranchal’s resources) without the consent of the people’s representatives from Uttaranchal.

Reminding the State Government of his earlier request to it, that it should discontinue taking any further decision on issues concerning Uttaranchal’s power projects, Mr Khanduri said in his letter that the State Government’s “hasty decision” on the issue was a “painful” one.

He also called upon the UP Chief Minister to nullify the negotiated settlement signed on August 17 last, enabling the transfer of the Srinagar project to a private enterprise.

The BJP leader, who is also the party’s chief whip in Parliament, has also appealed to the Prime Minister to restrain the mother state from repeating the act.

Meanwhile, the Samajwadi Party (SP) has strongly condemned what it termed “a total sell out” of Uttaranchal’s hydro-electric power projects by the State Government to the private sector.

Reacting to the reported selling of various hydel projects of Uttaranchal into private hands, National president of the party’s youth wing — Samajwadi Yuvjan Sabha (SYS) — Suryakant Dhasmana said the privatisation of the region’s hydel projects was not only “scandalous” but also against popular wishes.

Mr Dhasmana said the State Government should have desisted from taking such steps because the process of granting separate state to Uttaranchal was already in progress. Condemning the move, he said hydro-electricity projects only would serve to provide the much-needed revenue in the future. The party was strongly opposed to any such moves that would tend to dry up the chief source of income of the new State.

Terming the State Government move as a “conspiracy” to deny the new State of its essential resources, Mr Dhasmana said Uttaranchal would be born as a poorer cousin of Uttar Pradesh if this was allowed to happen.

The SP leader said that command and control of private sector on the new State’s hydel resources would not be tolerated and that the party would initiate steps to stall their execution in the field.