Shimla, Jan 11

Where on one hand the Sukhu led Congress government is busy celebrating its victory even after a month of coming to power, on the other Adani and Tata group of companies are busy collecting upfront money worth billions of rupees!

Yes, the Sukhu government on Tuesday handed over a cheque of Rs 26 crore to the High Court in a matter pertaining to the 450 MW Duggar hydro power project, which was to be set up by Tata Group’s Tata Power and Singapore company State Craft on the Chenab river in Chamba.

In 2017, Tata Power and Statecraft Singapore Private Limited jointly pulled out of the 450 MW Duggar hydroelectric project on the Chenab River. The company filed a case before the arbitrator to return the amount of upfront money deposited. During the regime of Jairam government, the State had lost this battle for upfront premium.

Why did the Jairam government lose this battle is a matter of investigation and review, but seems, the state and it’s  higher leadership is not concerned about this at all.

Retired Judge Justice Surendra Singh Thakur, was appointed arbitrator in this case by the High Court, while settling the matter of refund of upfront money, directed the government to return Rs 47 crore 20 lakhs to Duggar Hydro Power Limited Company with 10 percent interest. Orders in regard have been given. Apart from this, the company was ordered to pay Rs 16 lakh under the Arbitration Act.

Arbitrator Justice Surendra Singh Thakur accepted the arguments of Duggar Hydro Power Limited as correct and has termed the government’s decision to forfeit the upfront money as penalty without giving it a chance to be heard, incorrect.

Apart from this, Justice Thakur in his order has also said that it (Govt) has not been able to prove the damage caused by Duggar Hydro Power Limited withdrawal from this project.

Pertienent to mention that, Tata Power and Statecraft Company had created a special purpose vehicle named Duggar Hydro Power Limited for this project. After Duggar Hydro Power Limited pulled out of the 449 MW project on April 24, 2017, the government had canceled the allotment and forfeited the upfront money as per the bid conditions.

Against this decision of Arbitrator Justice Thakur, the government had filed a petition in the High Court and sought a stay. But the court directed that first deposit the money, then the rest of the issues will be discussed. Now the remaining amount also has to be deposited.

Interestingly, like the previous Jairam government, the Sukhu government is also oblivious to this dent of billions of rupees to the state’s exchequer. Perhaps, it is the same old bureaucracy in the State and the government is still in a state of celebration. Otherwise a review would have been done by now and these cases would have been won against the industrialists. This is not the first such case.

The funny thing is that after losing the case of upfront money of 47.5 crores, the Jairam government alloted this project to a government undertaking and termed it as a poll plank of bringing investment to the State.


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