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After digging gold in real estate, liquor and numerous sectors, tycoon Ponty Chadha wanted to enter the hydropower sector with a big-bang in Uttarakhand, a dream which remained unfulfilled.
Chadha’s companies were allotted over a dozen hydel projects with capacity ranging between 5 Mw to 25 Mw in 2010 by the state government. But controversy erupted when allegations began floating in the media that the government had out-of-way favoured the liquor companies owned by Chadha.
As the matter reached the high court, the government abruptly cancelled all the 56 hydel projects which were allotted under the self-identification scheme.
But this was not acceptable to Chadha, who wanted to invest Rs 1,000-2,000 crore in the hydropower sector alone in the hill state, from where his rags-to-riches story began.
Chadha, who had the habit of monopolising a particular business, soon challenged the cancellation order in the high court. After getting no relief, he moved the Supreme Court. “The case is still pending before the Supreme Court,” said a government official.
The government, which has now decided to invite fresh bids for small hydel projects with the total capacity to generate 1,000-1,500 Mw power is treading a cautious path in view of the pending case before the Supreme Court.
On the other hand, the government has also asked the IIT Roorke to make a cumulative environmental impact assessment study on the hydropower sector in the hill state.
The report is still awaited.
Instead of taking the much-maligned self-identified route, the government has decided to go through the state-identified way. “We are strictly following the High Court orders where we have been advised to conduct a cumulative impact assessment study in the state. Once we get the report from IIT Roorkee, we will take the next step,” said a top official of UJVN Ltd, the state run hydropower company.
Under the 2008 power policy, the former BJP government had received 741 bids for setting up hydel projects upto 25 Mw through self-identified route. In the beginning of 2010, the government headed by then chief minister Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank quietly allotted 56 hydel projects.
But few months later, the government abruptly cancelled the entire allotment process after facing corruption allegations.
Later, the high court also upheld the government’s decision to cancel the allotment of the 56 hydel projects.