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Citing irregularities, NBA demands scrapping of Maheshwar project

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The Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) served legal notices on the Madhya Pradesh government alleging irregularities and corruption in the financing of the Maheshwar power project and “cautioning” the government to not place any equity or give any approval or letter of comfort for the purchase of high-cost power from the project.

The legal notice, served by the NBA through lawyer Prashant Bhushan, has called on the state government to scrap all agreements and guarantees given to the Shree Maheshwar Hydel Power Corporation Ltd (SMHPCL) in public interest, and to disband the Maheshwar project.

The notice also stated that enormous undue pecuniary advantage had been given to the project promoters and Rs. 3,000 crore worth of public money had been jeopardised in this project which was known to be unviable.

The NBA also called on the State government to recover the defaulted public monies belonging to the public from S. Kumars by issuing Revenue Recovery certificates against them.

It alleged that several instances of financial irregularities in the project were overlooked by the state government. It alleged that between 1996 and 1998, the Madhya Pradesh State Industrial Development Corporation (MPSIDC) gave loans of Rs. 8.02 crores to the project promoters, S. Kumars, which defaulted on the loan.

The irregular lending and default was censured by the CAG.

In 2001, revenue recovery certificates were issued against the company by the MPSIDC, and the dam properties were attached.

“On 27.04.2004, the Economic Offences Wing of the State Government filed a FIR against the S.Kumars companies and its Directors including Mr. Mukul Kasliwal, and some officials of the MPSIDC for cheating, criminal conspiracy, etc under Sections 409, 420, 467, 468 and 120 B of the IPC. However, little action has been taken in the case, and last year, in order to suppress the true facts the state government placed the EOW outside the ambit of the RTI Act,” NBA leader Alok Agarwal said here Friday.

He furter pointed out that in 2005, the project promoters made a fresh settlement with the MPSIDC, by giving post dated cheques of Rs. 55 crores, based on which the government gave a counter guarantee of Rs. 400 crores to them.

However, after issuing the cheques and getting the counter-guarantee, the project promoters closed their bank accounts, because of which the cheques bounced, and the MPSIDC had to file cases against them in the Bhopal Court under section 420 of the IPC, among others.

“However the State Government continued to honor its guarantee and support the project, and CM Shivraj Singh Chauhan even fasted for the project in 2011,” said Mr. Agarwal.

“The SMHPCL's claim that the cost of power from the Maheshwar Project would be Rs. 6 per unit is patently false, as the meeting of the Ministry of Power dated 19.10.2011, the minutes of which were obtained by the Narmada Bachao Andolan under the RTI Act and which states that the cost of Maheshwar power is now Rs. 9.98 per unit, was attended by the Chairman of the SMHPCL – Mr. Mukul Kasliwal who admitted that the cost of the power from the project would be very high,” he said.

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Printable version | Dec 8, 2019 4:07:22 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/citing-irregularities-nba-demands-scrapping-of-maheshwar-project/article2879177.ece

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