Brakel gets four weeks to reply on Reliance Energy petition

January 8th, 2009 - 9:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Shimla, Jan 8 (IANS) The Himachal Pradesh High Court Thursday gave four weeks to Brakel Corp NV to file its reply on a petition filed by Reliance Energy, challenging the allotment of a multi-million dollar hydropower project to the Dutch power company by the state government.A division bench comprising Chief Justice Jagdish Bhalla and Justice Kuldip Singh accepted Brakel’s plea, demanding more time to file the reply.

The next hearing would be held March 31.

However, Reliance Energy’s plea for staying the signing of the pre-implementation agreement between the government and the Dutch firm for executing the Thopan-Powari-Jangi hydropower project in Kinnaur district failed to find favour from the court.

The government decided to sign the agreement Nov 25, 2008 on the recommendations of a seven-member committee headed by Chief Secretary Asha Swaroop.

Reliance Energy last month challenged the government’s decision to allow Brakel to continue with the Rs.40-billion (Rs.4,000 crore/$869 million) project that was awarded to the Dutch company Dec 1, 2006 by the previous Congress government through open international bidding.

The bench Dec 22 directed the government and Brakel to file their replies.

The government has already filed its reply in the court.

This is for the third time that Reliance Energy, one of the bidders, has moved the high court since the allotment of the project.

Last year, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) - then in the opposition but now in power - had petitioned the governor, seeking a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into the Brakel contract.

But when it came to power in January this year, the BJP awarded the same project to Brakel, which made an upfront payment of Rs.1.95 billion along with interest. But the government did not sign the pre-implementation agreement with the company.

Later, the BJP government issued two show-cause notices to the company, citing vigilance probes that had raised doubts about the capabilities of Brakel to execute the project.

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