Dutch firm wants hearing over controversial project deferred

November 15th, 2008 - 5:39 pm ICT by IANS  

Shimla, Nov 15 (IANS) Dutch power major Brakel Corp, which wants the Himachal Pradesh government’s green signal to save a controversial hydropower project allotted to it, Saturday asked the government to postpone its personal hearing over the project to next week, officials said.The state cabinet at its meeting Nov 3 decided to grant a personal hearing to the company to rectify the alleged financial and technical misrepresentation of the Rs.40-billion Thopan-Powari-Jangi hydropower project in Kinnaur district, 300 km from here.

The government also set up a high-level seven-member committee, headed by Chief Secretary Asha Swaroop, to review the case.

“We have summoned Brakel’s top officials for final hearing Nov 15, but no one turned up,” a member of the review panel told IANS, pleading anonymity.

“It (Brakel) sent a missive to the panel Saturday, demanding deferment of the personal hearing till Nov 19 and reconstitution of the review committee,” the official said.

The company has raised objections to the inclusion of Principal Power Secretary Ajay Mittal in the review panel, the official added.

Earlier this month, Mittal recommended to scrap the project, mired by allegations of financial and technical incompetence, and forfeit an upfront payment of Rs.1.95 billion that the company had deposited with the government.

“It is a strange paradox that the official (Mittal) who had ruled against the company in the past has been taken into the panel again. It’s against the principal of natural justice,” a top official of Brakel said here.

On postponement of hearing, he said: “We were communicated about the date of personal hearing Nov 12 and within three days, it is not possible for our top executives to arrive from abroad.”

The project was allotted to Brakel in 2006 by the then Congress government.

However, the present Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government is yet to sign a pre-implementation agreement, which is mandatory before beginning work. The government has despatched two show-cause notices to Brakel, asking why the company’s bid should not be scrapped.

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