NHPC Chief Backtracks

New Delhi, February 27: | Updated: Feb 28 2003, 05:30am hrs
Another Don Quixote has fallen by the wayside. In true PSU tradition, National Hydroelectric Power Corpn (NHPC) chairman Yogendra Prasad has no complaint left against his parent ministry.

Mr Prasad called a news conference on Thursday where he made an elaborate case for his change of heart. He has no doubts over whether the power ministry is giving him adequate support in cutting through inter-ministerial red tape.

The NHPC chief seems determined to bury the hatchet (FE of Feb 23) against the ministry. This is in contrast to a letter he wrote as recently as January which he ccd to deputy prime minister LK Advani where he told power secretary RV Shahi that the several government agencies had been adopting an unhelpful attitude.

Much water seems to have flown on this count for Mr Prasad. He wants to play down his letter to Mr Advani, where he blamed the Central Electricity Authority, the environment and forests ministry, the public investment board as also the Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs for considerable delays in clearing projects.

In fact, the PSU chief had warned both Mr Shahi and Mr Advani that if existing procedures are not simplified for according statutory and time bound clearances the achievement in the Tenth and succeeding plans will be as dismal as in the 8th and 9th plans.

Mr Prasad has also submitted a detailed note to Mr Advani on simplifying procedures for power development with special reference to hydro development. He also met President APJ Abdul Kalam recently and apprised him of the problems both technical and procedural, coming in the way of timely completion of hydel power projects.

After shooting from his hip, Mr Prasad has now changed his mind. Things have been impr-oving for the last seven to eight months both in CEA and also in terms of according clearances.

In past we had problems but past is gone and I cant say anything on what happened then as there were various reasons for that. But now things have changed and I am getting full co-operation from the ministry and all concerned departments especially CEA, he says now.

Why the retreat Sources point out that Mr Prasad will shortly appear before the PESB to get an extension for his term. Perhaps, but Mr Prasad doesnt seem totally cowed down yet. I am not scared of anyone. If there is a delay in getting clearances, I will start talking again, he assures.