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Shanan Hydropower Project: Supreme Court to hear Punjab’s plea against Himachal Pradesh on Monday

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear on Monday, Punjab government’s petition against the Himachal Pradesh government’s alleged attempt to take control of Shanan Hydropower Project on the expiry of a 99-year lease.

The State of Punjab moved the Apex Court on Friday seeking an urgent hearing of its suit.

The Bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud agreed to take up the matter on Monday.

Appearing for the Punjab government, Advocate Shadan Farasat contended that the 99-year lease for Shanan Hydropower Project was expiring in March and if the matter was not taken up urgently, the Himachal Pradesh government would take over the project.

Punjab government has filed an original suit against the Himachal Pradesh government and the Centre under Article 131 of the Constitution which deals with original jurisdiction of the top court in a dispute between the Centre and one or more states or a dispute between two or more states.

The British-era Shanan hydropower project at Jogindernagar, 40 km from Palampur in Himachal Pradesh, was constructed in 1925 under the lease executed between Raja Joginder Sen, the ruler of the then Mandi state, and Col BC Batty, a British representative.

The project, which used to feed the undivided Punjab, Lahore and Delhi before Independence, is said to be in a poor condition as the Punjab government allegedly stopped the repair and maintenance work.

The petitioner claimed that it was the owner and was in lawful possession of Shanan Power House Project and its Extension Project along with all assets currently under formative control of the Punjab government through Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd (PSPCL), the erstwhile PSEB.

The petitioner sought a “permanent Prohibitory Injunction” restraining the Himachal Pradesh government from disturbing the lawful peaceful possession and smooth functioning over the project.

It further requested the top court of the country to issue a “mandatory injunction” directing the Himachal Pradesh government not to depute any officer or team of officers to take over the project from its management and control.

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