HP revenue department asks power companies to surrender surplus land

Gaurav Bisht, Shimla: The Himachal Pradesh government has asked the power companies in the state to

surrender the surplus land that it has in its possession.
In its letter to the power companies, the state’s revenue department has sought details about the land in its possession. The revenue department’s letter has also cited places where the land was leased to the power companies for hydel project, but the land had not been brought to use by the companies.
The revenue department found surplus baron land in Sunder Nagar, Salaparh and Pandoh, which has the barrages of hydel projects being managed by the Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB).
“The land has been lying vacant for several decades and has not been brought to use for any purpose, so the revenue department has asked the power companies to return it back to the government so that it can be brought to use for other purposes,” an official of the revenue department told Hindustan Times.
The revenue department estimates that the power companies in Himachal have about 20,000 bighas of surplus land, which was not bring utilized for any purposes. The revenue department has also asked the deputy commissioners of the all the 12 districts to provide details of the land being used by the power companies. The land lease rules make it mandatory for lease to put land in use within the two years of its allotment.
The government has allotted about 3,000 to 4,000 bighas of land to big power producers in the state. “In many cases, it has been noticed that power companies usually seek lease for more land, while surplus is not being put to use,” said an official of the power company.
The revenue department has written a letter to the big power promoters like Satluj Jal Vidyut Nigam Limited (SJVNL), which runs Asia’s biggest underground power project (1,500 megawatt Nathpa Jhakri). The NJPC’s 1500-megawatt project supplies electricity to Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana, Punjab and Rajasthan.
The revenue department also detected the land lease being violated by Jaypee that was running 1,200-megawatt Karcham-Wangtoo project. The company raised an apple orchard at the land, which it had acquired for the purpose of building a hydropower project.
The revenue department detected that the company has raised apple orchard on the 100 bigha’s of land. The company was given 3,675 bighas of land on lease for its hydro-power projects and cement plants in the state. The farmers have also been cultivating agriculture crops on land along the reservoirs.
The study conducted by the non-government organisation a few years back reveal that the farmers illegally grow wheat amounting `4 crore on the land along the Pong Dam in Kangra district. The studies brought the startling fact that the farmers who have already been paid the compensation were still cultivating the same land in possession of BBMB.