After a marathon meeting on Monday, the Himachal Pradesh Cabinet turned down a plea by erring power companies to refund their upfront premium money to the tune of Rs 300 crore, which they claimed on the pretext of their inability to execute projects in districts like Lahaul Spiti, Chamba and Kangra. Nearly six companies had demanded the refund after expressing their desire to surrender the hydro-projects allotted to them.
Instead, the Council of Ministers took a decision to ask the Power Department to slap notices on these hydro-power companies to execute the projects or alternately forfeit the money deposited as upfront premium. The Cabinet also declined to grant any concession in the HP Ceiling on Land Holdings Act 1972 to exempt owners of tea estates to divert land for commercial and other economic purposes. Two influential tea estate owners had reportedly lobbied hard for this.
Under pressure from the MLAs, the Cabinet, meanwhile, decided to process their case for allotment of land to the HP Legislators Coop Housing Society near Shimla Airport. This will be third such land allotment meant for MLAs and ex-MLAs.
The Cabinet also approved the proposal to amend the policy relating to regularisation of forest encroachments up to five bighas.CM presided over the meeting, which many claimed could be the last one for the outgoing government. Officials, however, said another meeting will be convened on September 27, before announcement of the polls.