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HP Govt. gave Rs 209.28 crore undue benefits to Jaypee Powers, even allowed grave violations of rules : CAG

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karcham wangtoo hydel project scam

The CAG, in its report, said that JP Power was given undue favour by the Himachal government despite finding that they violated rules and grave irregularities were found in state government’s investments in a thermal power plant that resulted in a loss of Rs 3.98 crore.

SHIMLA- The Himachal Pradesh government, despite its precarious fiscal health and high debt exceeding Rs 35,000 crore, allegedly gave undue benefits to the tune of Rs 209.28 crore to Jaypee power company, which owned the 1000 MW Karcham Wangtoo hydel project in Kinnaur district.

The project has already been sold to another power developer for which the state government had given its permission last year. The company is also accused of hiding information about the actual capacity of the hydel project.

This is one of the revelation made by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India in its report, in which it rapped the state government’s policy to promote hydro-power sector to raise revenue against the interests of the state.

Failure of the Energy department to detect capacity addition of hydropower project in time and non-levy of Rs 209.28 crore on account of capacity addition charges, additional free power royalty and local area development fund led to extension of undue favour to the power developer,

said Ram Mohan Johri, Principal Accountant General (Audit) Himachal Pradesh here .

The findings of the CAG reveals that Karcham-Wangtoo hydel project was allotted to M/s Jaiprakash Industries Limited for an installed capacity of 900 MW through MOU route in August 1993. The CEA in March 2003 accorded techno-economic clearance to the project for an enhanced capacity of 1000 MW. The project was commissioned in May 2011 at a cost of Rs 6,903 crore.

However, in 2011, the CEA detected that the turbine of each generating unit procured by the developer were instead designed for 300 MW. Meaning that the normal continuous output thereby was of total capacity of 1200 MW, which was 20 per cent more than the rated output of the machine.

The state government constituted a Technical Committee (TC) to investigate the specific deviations in the project, which the TC confirmed in June 2013.

Despite the deviations, the company got approval for the same from the state government in 2015.

When we posed the questions to the government authorities, they admitted that the company had no Techno-economic clearance for 1200 MW and also there was failure to levy dues to the tune of Rs 209.28 crore,

Johri said.

In two other cases, the CAG has found grave irregularities in state government’s investments in a thermal power plant that resulted in a loss of Rs 3.98 crore as the project work never took off. CAG, in its report, said that the investment was made without studying its feasibility and choosing a Joint Venture Partner, EMTA, without assessing the merits. The case was being probed by Enforcement Directorate (ED) on money laundering charges as there were top government official involved .

Another irregularity of Rs 71.64 crore detected by CAG is related to grading and classification of timber sold by the HP State Forest Corporation. Grade ‘A’ timber was wrongly classified at lower variants leading to a loss of Rs 18 crore.

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Bad Weather Warning for Himachal, Tourists and Locals Advised Not to Venture into Higher Hills

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Shimla– The Himachal Pradesh Meteorological Department, Shimla, has predicted heavy to very heavy rains for middle and lower hills on October 17th and 18th. The Met has also issued orange and yellow alerts for various districts.

Meanwhile, heavy snowfall has been predicted in higher hills and advisory has been issued for both locals and tourists to avoid travelling to higher hills.

While a yellow alert with a prediction of thunderstorms and lightning at isolated places has been issued for Una and Hamirpur district on October 17, an orange alert with a prediction of heavy rainfall, thunderstorm, lightning and hailstorm at isolated places has been issued for Bilaspur, Chamba, Kangra, Kullu, Mandi, Shimla, Solan, Sirmaur, and Kinnaur.

For October 18, a yellow alert has been issued for Una, Bilaspur, Hamirpur, Chamba, and Kullu districts and an orange alert for the remaining districts.

The Deputy Commissioner, Lahaul-Spiti, warned that in view of the Met Department’s forecast for the next two days, locals and tourists should avoid Manali-Leh National Highway (NH-03) and refrain from venturing into higher hills.

In case, travel is unavoidable due to some compelling circumstances, such candidates have been asked to confirm weather and road conditions on given telephone numbers, which are 9459661355, 01900-202509, 510, 517 and 1077.

The DC also informed that in case of any emergency, people should contact the District Disaster Management Cell, Lahaul-Spiti, on 01900 202509, 510, 517, and Tall Free -1077.

The weather is predicted to be dry on October 19 and 20. 

Feature Photo: Photo by Rodrigo Souza from Pexels

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Haryana Tourists Fire Bullets in Air at Hatu Mata Temple, Brandish Rifle, Manhandle Priest

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Hatu temple gun fire by tourists

Shimla-Following regular instances of hooliganism and assaults with weapons by tourists from neighbouring states, especially Punjab and Haryana, the Himachal Pradesh Police had announced regular checking of tourist vehicles on borders to prevent them from carrying weapons into the state. However, the tourists continue to bring weapons, including firearms, into the state.   

In a fresh incident, some tourists from Haryana on October 13, 2021, reportedly fired bullets in the air near the Hatu Mata Temple, Narkanda.  On hearing the sound of gunshots, the priest of the temple, Lalit Sharma, approached these tourists and objected to it. The tourists allegedly grabbed him by the neck and gave him life threats.

The priest freed himself somehow and immediately informed the temple committee about the incident. A member of the temple committee also informed the local police.

The priest said that a special pooja (worship) was organized at the temple on the occasion of Durga Ashtami and a large number of people was present inside the premises to participate in the pooja. This incident created panic among these devotees.

A taxi driver, Shravan Kumar, told police that two cars – HR 16X-3753 MG Hector & PB 26G-5555 Fortuner- were parked in the middle of the Hatu Mata link road, blocking the traffic. The tourists in these vehicles were brandishing guns and creating a nuisance. A short video clip showing one of these men brandishing a gun from their vehicle has also appeared. It was speculated that these men were intoxicated. 

Later, the local police arrived at the scene and apprehended about eight tourists for questioning. The police recovered a pistol, a rifle, and a dozen of bullets from the men. Cases were filed against two of them. When inquired in front of the temple committee, the two tourists told the police their names and addresses. They were identified as Kuldeep, 37, of Tehsil Lauharu, District Bhiwani, Haryana,  and Abhishek Kumar, 27, of district Bhawani, Harayana.

A case was filed at the Police Station, Kumarsain under Section 336, 34 of IPC and 25-54/59 of the Arms Act. The Deputy Superintendent of Police, Rampur, Chandrashekhar confirmed the report.

The temple committee has expressed concern over the incident and asked the police and the district administration to take stringent action against these men for hooliganism and creating a nuisance. The committee also urged that steps should be taken to prevent such incidents in the future.

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New Chief Justice of HP High Court Justice Mohammad Rafiq Takes Oath

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New Chief Justice of Himachal PRadesh High Court justice mohammad rafiq

Shimla-The new Chief Justice of Himachal Pradesh High Court, Justice Mohammad Rafiq, was today administered the oath of office by Governor Rajendra Vishwanath Arlekar in a ceremony held at Raj Bhawan.

Justice Mohammad Rafiq was born on 25th May 1960 at Sujangarh in the Churu district of Rajasthan. He completed B.Com in 1980, LL.B in 1984 and M.Com in 1986 from the University of Rajasthan.

He, later on, joined the Bar and practised as an Advocate after enrolment with the Bar Council of Rajasthan on 8th July 1984. He practised exclusively in Rajasthan High Court at Jaipur in almost all branches of law and specially conducted constitutional matters, service matters, land acquisition cases, land revenue cases, preventive detention cases, customs & excise matters, railway claims cases, tax matters, company matters and criminal matters before the High Court.

He worked as Assistant Government Advocate for the State of Rajasthan from 15th July 1986 to 21st December 1987 and Deputy Government Advocate from 22nd December 1987 to 29th June 1990. He appeared before the High Court as panel advocate for various Departments of the State Government for five years i.e. from 1993 to 1998.

He also represented the Union of India as Standing Counsel from 1992 to 2001 before the High Court. He also represented the Indian Railways, Rajasthan State Pollution Control Board, Rajasthan Board of Muslim Wakfs, Jaipur Development Authority, Rajasthan Housing Board and Jaipur Municipal Corporation before the Rajasthan High Court.

He was appointed as Additional Advocate General for the State of Rajasthan on 7th January 1999 and worked as such till his elevation to the Bench. He was appointed as Judge of the Rajasthan High Court on 15th May 2006. He also worked as Acting Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court twice; from 7th April 2019 to 4th May 2019 and from 23rd September 2019 to 5th October 2019. He was also the Executive Chairman of the Rajasthan State Legal Services Authority and the Administrative Judge of the Rajasthan High Court before elevation as the Chief Justice. He was the Chief Justice of the High Court of Meghalaya from 13th November 2019 to 26th April 2020. Justice Mohammad Rafiq was administered the oath of office of the Chief Justice of Orissa High Court on 27th April 2020, on being transferred from the Meghalaya High Court. He was administered the oath of office of the Chief Justice of the High Court of Madhya Pradesh on 3rd January 2021, on being transferred from the Orissa High Court.

The ceremony took place at the Darbar Hall of Raj Bhawan, where Chief Secretary Ram Subhag Singh conducted the proceedings of the oath ceremony and read out the notification issued by the Government of India, Ministry of Law and Justice regarding the transfer of Justice Mohammad Rafiq as Chief Justice of the HP High Court.

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