‘The Chief Minister is hiding facts from his own party’

Former Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal on Sunday said that Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh, who is in the eye of the storm for allegations of bribery against him, is hiding facts from his own party high command, if the statement of the All India Congress Committee on its website is to be believed.

Mr. Dhumal, in a press conference on Sunday, gave exhaustive details about the project allotted to Vakamulla Chandrashekhar, the head of Tarini Group’s Venture Energy, by the Congress-led State government. Mr. Chandrashekhar gave crores of rupees as interest free loans to the Chief Minister, he said.

‘No clearance’

Mr. Dhumal said the 17 MW Sai Kothi hydel project was a part of 400 MWs of small hydel projects allotted to various companies by the BJP-led government on June 14, 2002. Mr. Chandrashekhar’s project was cancelled on December 12 the same year as he was unable to get clearance from the Central government. The Congress which came to power in March 2003 set up a high-level committee to review the project and agreed that it should be cancelled. The committee terminated the Memorandum of Understanding with the company, he stated.

But surprisingly, the project was brought back for reconsideration thrice in the Cabinet by someone more powerful than the Power Minister Vidya Stokes, said Mr. Dhumal, hinting at Mr. Singh’s role in the reversal of decision.

The controversial project was again reallocated to Venture Energy in February 2005, despite the High Court’s orders. The matter went to the Supreme Court which asked the government to reconsider its decision. Instead, the Virbhadra government allotted the project again to the same company.