Water cess levied on hydro power project doesn’t violate any law, Himachal chief minister, Energy News, ET EnergyWorld

Water cess levied on hydro power project doesn't violate any law, Himachal chief minister

Shimla: Water cess levied by the Himachal Pradesh government on hydro power generation projects does not violate any law, state chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu said on Thursday. The remark came amid opposition from neighbouring states, Punjab and Haryana, which said the cess imposed under the HP Water Cess on Hydro Power Generation Act, 2023 is in violation of the Inter-State River Water Disputes Act, 1956.

“No provision of HP Water Cess on Hydro Power Generation Act 2023 violates any Act and objections of neighbouring states are not logical as water cess has already been imposed by Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir governments,” the Himachal chief minister said in the state assembly.

Sukhu clarified that the Act implemented by the Himachal Pradesh government neither violates any kind of inter-state treaties nor the provisions of the Indus Water Treaty.

He said that the levy does not affect the release of water to the neighbouring states.

Asserting that water cess is logical and under the jurisdiction of the state as about 45,000 hectares land of the state was submerged in the reservoirs of three projects of Bhakra Beas Management Board (BBMB) in Himachal and the state has been facing the adverse environmental impact for decades, Sukhu said.

“Be it local climate change, adverse changes in agriculture and horticulture, health problems, social and economic changes, reservoirs of these projects have badly affected human life,” he added.

When hydropower projects are built, Environmental Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) are assessed to compensate for all the adverse effects and for this Environmental Social Management Plan (ESMP) is approved and implemented for the upliftment of the local area and environmental and social security. However, Sukhu said, none of the projects under BBMB has taken necessary steps to address these issues,” Sukhu said.

These reservoirs have swallowed agricultural and horticultural land, obstructed the means of transport, submerged water sources, religious places and cremation grounds, but the rehabilitation of those displaced 50-60 years ago has not been completed, he added.

BBMB was set up by the ministry of power in accordance with the provisions of the Punjab Reorganization Act, 1966 to administer, maintain and operate the Bhakra Nangal Project, which is a joint venture and undertaking of Rajasthan, Punjab, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Delhi and Chandigarh.

He said that the management of BBMB is not controlled by Punjab and Haryana alone and the burden of water cess on the projects of BBMB will be distributed equally among five states including Himachal Pradesh, Sukhu said, adding that the cess is levied on water used by established hydropower projects and not on water flowing across neighbouring state borders.