The Jammu and Kashmir High Court, in an ‘important order’ Saturday, permitted the state government to utilise for welfare schemes the money collected from National Hydro-electric Power Corporation (NHPC) as water usage charges.
The operative part of the High Court order reads: ‘Permission is accordingly granted with the condition that in case the petitioner succeeds, the respondents, without loss of time, will deposit back the entire amount in the said separate account along with interest as would accrue on such amount if it would remain in the account maintained in the J&K Bank.’
The official spokesman of Jammu and Kashmir government noted Saturday: ‘This order has come as a major relief to the state government as it would enable it to utilize the amount on many ambitious projects in the state.’
The state government expects to get Rs.900 crore or more as water usage charges from NHPC this year.
The state government had imposed cess on the use of water by the power stations in the state late 2010. The NHPC, challenging the imposition of water cess, had filed a petition in the J&K High Court. The NHPC has four power plants having a total capacity of 1,680 MW in the state.
The cess amount is about 25 paise per cusec of water used for generation of power. The Central Electricity Regulatory Commission (CERC) in its order on Oct 21, 2011 allowed NHPC to get the water cess reimbursed by the beneficiary states — Rajasthan, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
According to an NHPC official, water cess has resulted in higher tariff — which has risen from 20 paise per unit to up to Rs.1.23 per unit for NHPC’s four operational projects in Jammu and Kashmir — Salal, Uri-I, Dulhasti and Sewa-II.