Power Div, AJ&K lock horns over electricity rate


ISLAMABAD: Power Division and AJ&K government are said to have locked horns on the rate of electricity for AJ&K as the latter has been provided 350-MW electricity at the rate of Rs 2.59 per unit for 15 years, well informed sources in Ministry of Water Resources told Business Recorder.

Sharing the details, the sources said, the second meeting of the Inter-Ministerial Committee was held under the chairmanship of Federal Minister for Defence Lt General Anwar Ali Hyder (retired) on January 18, 2024. Prime Minister AJ&K along with his team attended the meeting.

Secretary KA&GB Division recalled that in the first meeting of the Committee held on December 29, 2023, eight sub-committees were constituted to deliberate upon the issue tabled by the AJ&K government to firm up recommendations for consideration of the Inter-Ministerial Committee.

Uplift of Kashmiris: AJK PM speaks about criticality of region’s hydro-power potential

The Draft Tripartite Agreement (DTA) finalised in 2011 was forwarded to erstwhile Ministry of Water and Power. Later, an amended draft was shared with the Ministry in 2016. Neelum Jhelum Hydropower Project started its commercial operation in 2018. Signing of the NJHP Agreement is still lingering. Severe environmental issues have cropped up, which would have been addressed on priority basis. Any further delay in signing of the bilateral agreement between the GoP and GoAJ&K and in taking the mitigation measures may cause unrest and environmental issues in Muzaffarabad.

The Inter Ministerial Committee recommended that appropriate measures for environmental degradation will be taken in accordance with the outcome of the study, which will be initiated once the CCoE approves changes in the executing agency from G/o AJK to MoWR.

On the issue of minimum release of 40 cusecs of water downstream Nauseri, Secretary Water Resources stated that release of 40 cusecs would affect the flow of Neelum-Jhelum Hydropower Project.

He added that during months of peak flow, full discharge above 250 acres was also made. Prime Minister AJ&K however, observed that there was difference of opinion between AJ&K Government and Ministry of Water Resources about the actual discharge of water downstream Nauseri. He differed with the stance of M/o Water Resources of about 250 cusecs discharge and proposed a scientific e-flow study about actual discharge during lean and normal period.

He further clarified that 250 cusec of water was released during tunnel closure of NJHPP. To converge over the divergence of opinion, the forum agreed with the recommendation made by the Sub-Committee that “no decision on the minimum release of 340 cusecs water downstream Nauseri will be taken after determination of minimum e-flow, once the e-flow study is completed after the approval of the CCoE.”

On payment of Water Usage Charges, the Ministry of Water Resources agreed in principle to pay water usage charges to AJ&K. However, the issue of retrospective payment can only be reviewed/ undertaken by the Cabinet of Pakistan.

The sources said, the Committee decided that a combined sub-committee will look into the matter of provision of 150-MW electricity from NJHPP at generation cost, transfer of existing 132-kV transmission and grid network and payment of taxes.

During discussion on determination of power supply tariff to AJ&K, Secretary Power Division presented five different scenarios before the forum pertaining to the determination of tariff. Prime Minister AJ&K however, recorded his dissent with Secretary Power Division and referred back to the MDR Agreement where AJ&K was to be charged tariff at cost of production @ Rs 2.59 per unit. He also raised the issue that Power Division did not share the information pertaining to electricity generation and GST charged on the tariff.

He affirmed that AJ&K shall not be treated like a commercial entity and the 2003 Mangla Agreement with WAPDA was still in the field as there was no successor agreement, which needed to be honoured.

While responding to the comment of at-source deduction of AJ&K funds by Finance Division on account of tariff, Additional Secretary, Finance Division affirmed that no such deduction was made by the Finance Division from the grants to AJ&K by Power Finance (PF) Wing.

According to the AJ&K government, as per agreement of Mangla Dam Raising Project (MDRP) signed in 2003, the mechanism for determination of power supply tariff for AJ&K is given in clause 5.2(b) of MDRP Agreement which states “the future power tariff of AJ&K shall be fixed by the GoP on recommendation of a Sub-Committee already notified by the Ministry of KANA and SAFRON on June 6, 2003.”

However, Disco unilaterally submitted a tariff proposal to NEPRA and got approval of higher tariff for AJ&K in May, 2007 and ever since power tariff for AJ&K has been changed on many occasions. 2400-MW hydel power including 1120-MW from Mangla and 969-MW from NJHPP is being generated in AJK whereas its total requirement is 350-MW.

Related posts