Jammu - Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah Thursday declared that his government will not give any new project to the central government-run National Hydroelectric Projects Corporation (NHPC) unless it returns three major projects to the state.
"We are strongly and vehemently advocating return of Uri, Salal and Dulhasti power projects back to the state by NHPC to compensate the losses we are regularly bearing due to the Indus Water Treaty," he said at a public meeting in Kishtwar, about 200 km north-east of Jammu.
"The NHPC is putting hurdles in our efforts but let me tell them categorically that we will not give any project to NHPC in future to be executed by it individually unless it agrees to give back the projects we have asked for," he asserted.
"NHPC has taken full advantage of these projects and it is now their duty to return these projects for the economic betterment of the state without further delay."
His statement follows the repeated criticism of the main opposition Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) that the National Conference governments had sold out the natural resources of the state to NHPC at a meager price - the state gets only 12 percent of the power generated by the NHPC from the projects it had constructed on the waters of the rivers flowing in Jammu and Kashmir.
In the past, the state government had given project construction work to the NHPC because neither it had the money nor wherewithal to undertake work on the mega power projects.
The only project that the state constructed - the 450 MW Baglihar on river Chenab - was also given to NHPC to be run for two years by the Omar Abdullah government in 2009.
Omar Abdullah cited the recommendations of various panels to substantiate his claim for the return of the projects currently with the NHPC.
"The C. Rangarajan Committee, Working Group constituted by the prime minister and interlocutors have recommended the return of power projects back to the state by the NHPC," he said, adding he would continue to work tirelessly to make it happen.
He said he was "hopeful that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, who are friends of the state and keen to see all round development here, will use their offices to make NHPC to return the power projects to the state as early as possible".
Stressing that the state's financial health could only be improved by utilizing its water resources in full, he said Jammu and Kashmir has a total annual income of Rs.6,500 crore but has to pay Rs.13,500 crore in salaries and Rs.1,500 crore as pensions annually.
"This makes me to visit New Delhi time and again for getting financial support for the development and economic welfare of the state," he said.