Giving a go ahead to amendment in the hydro policy, the Himachal Pradesh Cabinet on Tuesday approved to rationalise the rates of royalty to be applicable for allotment of new projects.

The rationalisation in being done in view of the provisions of national hydro power policy and the policy followed by bordering states of Uttarakhand and Jammu and Kashmir.

The Cabinet meeting, which was chaired by Chief Minister, Jai Ram Thakur okayed to defer 12 percent free power for first 12 years in case of the already allotted projects.

An official spokesman said the cabinet approved the power of hydro projects up to 10 MW capacities shall be mandatorily purchased by Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board Ltd (HPSEBL).

The cabinet okayed that the generic tariff applicable in case of hydro electric projects (HEPs) up to 25 MW will be of the date of the commissioning and not of the date of implementation agreement.

It was also approved that wheeling charges or open access charges will not be levied for HEPs up to 25 MW capacity enabling them to sell power on competitive rates outside the state also. The spokesman said the steps will ensure that 737 stalled projects of around 5,100 MW capacity will get a lifeline and their execution will be geared up.

Moreover, it will increase the possibility to allot 300 projects of 2,200 MW capacity for which there were no takers despite repeated advertisements under the old policy. “All these steps will catalyze private investment in hydro power sector at least to the tune of Rs 70,000 crore over the next ten years,” he added.

The Cabinet accorded approval to guidelines for implementation of ‘Prakritik Kheti Khushhal Kissan’ scheme in the state to reduce cost of cultivation and enhanced farm income by adopting zero budget natural farming. Rs 25 crore has been earmarked for the scheme.

It will give fillip to organic farming and reduce the use of chemical fertilisers by the farmers in their fields. The state universities would prepare package of practices for its implementation.

The Cabinet gave its nod to allocate 66 MW Dhaulasidh hydro project on Beas river in Hamirpur district to SJVN Ltd. for implementation on standalone, BOOM basis instead of Special Purpose Vehicle on the pattern of Luhri Stage-I, II and Sunni Dam hydroelectric projects.

The official decided to regularise the services of contractual employees working in different departments of the state government who have completed three years of continuous services as on 31 March, and 30 September, 2018.

The Cabinet also decided to issue ‘Letter of Intent’ for grant of mining lease over area measuring 108 hectares for setting up of white cement plant at Noradhar in district Sirmaur in favour of M/s FCI Aravali Gypsum and Minerals India Ltd. (a Government of India undertaking), Jodhpur, Rajasthan.

In order to encourage students to take interest in science subject, the Cabinet decided to introduce‘Yuva Vigyan Purskar Yojna’ for 10+2 students. Under the scheme, ten meritorious students obtaining highest marks in Science stream of 10+2 standard Board examination will be given scholarship. The spokesman said the Cabinet gave its approval to Himachal Pradesh Victim Compensation Fund (Victim of Crime-Compensation) Scheme, 2018.