Blame game on as HP power plant 'violates' green norms

Blame game on as HP power plant 'violates' green norms

Dhumal holds Cong responsible, Virbhadra points finger at BJP

A direction by Himachal Pradesh High Court to dismantle a private thermal power plant in Solan over green concerns, appears to have given political ammunition to both the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and opposition Congress.

The state will go to the Assembly polls later this year.

On May 4, the court slammed the thermal power plant at Bagheri, which is owned by infrastructure conglomerate Jaiprakash Associates Ltd, triggering a blame game between BJP and Congress. They accused each other for allowing environmental violations by the plant.

“The BJP government had reversed his government’s decision of not allowing a 25-MW captive thermal power plant,” said Union minister and former chief minister Virbhadra Singh of Congress on Sunday. The power plant was supposed to be a part of Bagheri cement factory.

He was reacting to a recent statement by chief minister Prem Kumar Dhumal of BJP, who held the previous Congress government responsible for the alleged environmental violation.

“Even the court judgement has mentioned my government’s decision to withdraw environment clearance,” said Virbhadra Singh.

In its judgement, the green bench of the high court also imposed a penalty of Rs 100 crore on the company as environmental damage. The court also ordered the dismantling of the captive thermal plant within three months.

The company told the court that it had dropped the plan of setting up a captive power plant at Bagheri much before the court order.

Dhumal blamed the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests for allowing the company to set up the thermal plant on the premises of the cement factory. However, government officials said both Congress and BJP should be held guilty as the company took permission from the government of the day at various stages of setting up the cement plant.

After the judgment, Dhumal said his government, which came to power in December 2007, gave permission for setting up the captive thermal power plant as per the policy of the Centre. He said his government had informed the MoEF about the opposition of locals against the thermal plant. But an expert appraisal committee of the Centre did not take notice of the opposition and cleared the truncated project, he said.

A government official said the Congress government in 2007 took a decision not to allow any thermal power plant. But the BJP government, which succeeded it, changed the policy and allowed setting up of thermal plants in 2008.


“This company started the process of setting up the thermal plant only when it was allowed by relevant government policies. So how can politicians run away from sharing the blame for giving permission to set up the plant?” said a government official, who does not want to be named.

Virbhadra Singh said the present BJP-led government not only changed the policy of not allowing thermal plants but also allowed the company to enhance its plant capacity up to 60 MW.

NGO Himprivesh, which filed a PIL with the high court, said in a statement that the firm had started construction of the thermal plant but since it did not get environmental clearance, it seemed the company shifted the plant equipment somewhere else in 2009.

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