Uttarakhand’s BJP government was forced to cancel 56 hydel projects in July 2010. These were initiated during Chief Minister BC Khanduri’s previous tenure (in 2008). Activists had accused the Ramesh Pokhriyal ‘Nishank’ government of allotting these projects without any competitive bidding, causing loss to the exchequer. None of the companies prepared a detailed project report before bidding — they applied for self-identified plants with less than 25 MW capacity.
People familiar with the case say that the favoured firms were front companies of a liquor baron with no expertise in such projects. The government cancelled all the contracts just before a pil was to be heard by the high court. The demand by activists and the Opposition for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe was also refused by the government. However, a special leave petition has been filed in the Supreme Court asking for a CBI inquiry and the companies are also fighting it out to get the projects back. The state, meanwhile, lost an investment of more than 6,000 crore and the opportunity to generate around 1,000 MW of clean energy. This scam is bound to weigh with the voters.
Prakhar Jain is a Correspondent with Tehelka.