Backchannel diplomacy to end J&K deadlock

PDP to demand packages, return of power projects

Backchannel diplomacy to end J&K deadlock
As the suspense over government formation continued in Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), backchannel diplomacy has been initiated between the alliance partners, the PDP and the BJP, to end the deadlock.

The PDP had given feelers of demands to the BJP leadership during a closed-door meeting held recently in Srinagar.

“During the secret meeting with the BJP top brass, including Ram Madhav, the PDP leaders told them that it desperately needs some tangible incentives from New Delhi and only then the alliance would be continued,” sources privy to the meeting told Deccan Herald.

They said it was during this meeting held at Fairview residence of PDP chief Mehbooba Mufti that the party clearly said it would demand return of power projects, apart from some other packages from the Center.

Sources said the BJP leaders principally agreed to the demand, and asked the PDP to submit a formal proposal.

The PDP leaders are optimistic of getting the power projects back. They said the Central government is willing to consider the request for returning Salal Hydroelectricity Project as harbinger of confidence building measures (CBMs).

Built on the river Chenab in Reasi area of Jammu region, the power plant was commissioned in 1987 with an initial capacity of 345 MW. Subsequently the capacity was enhanced to 690 MW by 1995.

Though the PDP and its arch rival the National Conference have been advocating the return of Salal and Dulhasti to the state from the National Hydro Power Corporation (NHPC), there has been no breakthrough.

A PDP leader wishing anonymity said the Rangarajan Committee has already recommended that certain hydroelectricity power projects be returned to the state free of cost. “We are reiterating this demand and request that requisite compensation to NHPC for such projects be paid by the Central government,” he said.

Mehbooba’s tough stance and seeking CBMs from the Centre has made the task of forming a new government in the state an uphill task.

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