Supreme Court to hear Punjab suit on Shanan hydel project transfer on April 8 | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Supreme Court to hear Punjab suit on Shanan hydel project transfer on April 8

ByAbraham Thomas
Mar 05, 2024 09:31 AM IST

A bench of justices AS Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan was informed that the Union government has ordered “status quo” with regard to possession of the British Raj era hydel project

The Supreme Court will on April 8 take up the application by Punjab government seeking to restrain the Himachal Pradesh government from taking possession of 110-MW Shanan hydel on expiry of its 99-lease period on March 2.

The Shanan hydel power project, commissioned in 1932, is located at Jogindernagar in Mandi district of Himachal. (File photo)
The Shanan hydel power project, commissioned in 1932, is located at Jogindernagar in Mandi district of Himachal. (File photo)

Issuing summons on the suit filed by the state of Punjab against the state of Himachal Pradesh and Centre, a bench of justices AS Oka and Ujjal Bhuyan was informed that the Union government has ordered “status quo” with regard to possession of the British Raj era hydel project.

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Punjab advocate general Gurminder Singh appearing along with state’s additional advocate general Shadan Farasat informed the Court about the March 1 letter issued by the Union government conveying to both state governments to maintain “status quo”.

Also Read: Punjab moves SC against HP’s bid to take over Shanan project

The state said that while it is in dispute whether the Centre can issue such an order, “to be fair, Union letter of March 1 has asked parties to maintain status quo,” Singh said.

The bench observed, “We will first hear the interim relief prayer,” while admitting the suit for hearing and fixing the next date of hearing on April 8.

The suit was mentioned for urgent listing last Friday as the lease period of the project ended on March 2 and the Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu government indicated that the lease of the plant, situated at Jogindernagar in Himachal, will not be extended.

The lease agreement was signed in 1925 between Jogendra Sen Bahadur, then ruler of Mandi state, and Colonel BC Batty, the then chief engineer of undivided Punjab government.

According to the agreement, water for the project was to be utilised from Uhl river, a tributary of Beas River, in lieu of which the state would receive 500kW free electricity.

The project was originally envisaged to be a 48-MW capacity project.

Over the years, the Punjab government has enhanced its capacity to 60 MW and later 110 MW to meet the growing demands of electricity in Punjab.

The suit filed by Punjab through its secretary (power and energy), said, “The instant suit is being filed on behalf of the government of Punjab seeking relief of permanent prohibitory injunction for restraining defendant 1 (HP government) from disturbing the lawful-peaceful possession and smooth functioning over the Shanan Power House Project as the plaintiff (Punjab) is the owner and is in lawful possession of Shanan Power House Project and its extension project along with all assets.”

In addition, the suit seeks the status quo to be maintained and sought “temporary injunction” against dispossession.

The state has claimed that Shanan project is “managed and controlled by Punjab” through Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (erstwhile Punjab State Electricity Board) allocated to the state by a central notification issued on May 1, 1967, by central ministry of irrigation and power.

It added that Punjab’s legal control over the project is under the provisions of the Punjab Reorganisation Act, 1966 read along with the 1967 notification.

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