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11-March-2024-Editorial

March 11 @ 7:00 am - 11:30 pm

PUNJAB-HIMACHAL DISPUTE OVER THE SHANAN HYDROPOWER PROJECT

The Shanan hydropower project has become a focal point of contention between Punjab and Himachal Pradesh, each asserting its rightful claim over the project.

This dispute has escalated to legal action and intervention by the central government.

Historical Background

Lease Agreement (1925):

  • Punjab was granted a lease for the 110-MW hydropower project located in Mandi district, Himachal Pradesh, during the British era.
  • The agreement formalized operational rights between Raja Joginder Bahadur and Col BC Batty, representing the British government.

Project Utility:

  • Initially serving the undivided Punjab and Delhi’s energy needs, the project’s transmission line terminated at Verka village in Amritsar post-partition.

Legal Control under Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966:

  • Transferred to Punjab during the reorganisation of states in 1966, as Himachal Pradesh became a Union Territory.
  • Punjab’s legal control was affirmed by a central notification in 1967 under the Punjab Reorganisation Act.

Claims of Different Parties

Himachal Pradesh’s Claim:

  • Asserts ownership and operational rights over the project before the 1925 lease to Punjab.
  • Alleges deterioration due to Punjab’s lack of maintenance.

Punjab’s Claim:

  • Asserts ownership and lawful possession under the 1967 central notification.
  • PSPCL, Punjab’s state government, currently controls all project assets.

Legal Actions and Central Intervention

Legal Action by Punjab:

  • Filed a case in the Supreme Court under Article 131, seeking a permanent injunction to prevent Himachal Pradesh’s interference.
  • A “permanent Prohibitory Injunction” is requested to maintain peaceful possession and smooth functioning.

Central Government’s Intervention:

  • Ordered to maintain status quo on the project before the lease conclusion, invoking powers under the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966.
  • The Ministry of Power issued the directive to ensure continuous operation.

Inter-State River Water Disputes

Inter-State Water Dispute (ISWD) Act, 1956:

  • Mandates consultation among aggrieved states by the central government before constituting a tribunal.
  • Amendments in 2002, based on Sarkaria Commission recommendations, introduced time frames for tribunal formation and decision-making.

Conclusion

The Shanan hydropower project dispute underscores complex inter-state issues, historical agreements, and legal interpretations.

As the matter unfolds through legal avenues and central intervention, the resolution will require a balanced approach, ensuring both states’ interests are considered while maintaining project continuity and integrity.

Details

Date:
March 11
Time:
7:00 am - 11:30 pm
Event Category: