Jharkhand will exit from the tripartite agreement signed with the Union power ministry and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) by the former chief minister Raghubar Das.
The agreement was signed to purchase power from Damodar Valley Corporation (DVC) to prevent the arbitrary deduction of money from the state’s coffers.
Describing the agreement as lopsided, the state cabinet on Wednesday approved its cancellation. Announcing the decision later, state energy secretary Avinash Kumar said a cabinet nod was being sought to prevent auto-deduction of money from Jharkhand’s account in RBI.
“Despite repeated requests to the Centre to clear outstanding dues, the Union ministry last year invoked tripartite agreement clause to auto-debit the money from our accounts in RBI. Considering all aspects, the state government is of the view that the agreement made in the past is lopsided and hence, we shall exist from it,” said Kumar.
In 2017, Raghubar Das government entered into a tripartite agreement to give payment security to DVC for procuring power. However, amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the Centre invoked the tripartite agreement in October 2020 to auto-deduct Rs 1,417.50 crore in lieu towards the outstanding dues.
DVC has been claiming Rs 5,608.32 crore dues from the state government for supplying power between March 31, 2015, to August 23, 2017. But Jharkhand has challenged it, saying that after re-assessment, the pending dues were Rs 3,919.04 crores.
The auto-deduction, however, deepened the tussle between state and Union government with chief minister Hemant Soren accusing the Centre of deliberately harassing the state, which was hard-pressed for funds amid the Covid-19 pandemic. He also wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year seeking his intervention.
Speaking to reporters outside Project Building post-cabinet meeting, Hemant said, “This is one of the many faulty policies and decisions taken by the previous BJP government which wasn’t in the interest of this poor state. In our RBI account, we get funds under different heads for the overall development of the state. To prevent further auto-debit by the Centre, we have finally decided to exit from the agreement.”
The cabinet has also approved new regulations to hold Jharkhand Combined Civil Services Examinations replacing the earlier rules framed in 1951. “Now, recruitment exams will be held under fresh rules and regulations which are in sync with today’s time. It is surprising that the previous government didn’t do anything to addressing the problems in recruitment bodies to simply things and are continuing with the decade-old rules,” said Soren.
According to the new rules, there will be a requirement of educational qualification and age for candidates for all exams. In preliminary examinations, the number of candidates will be selected 15 times higher than the actual vacancies to shortlist the eligible ones through a comprehensive screening process.
“If any aspirant from the reserved category qualifies on merit, he/she can have the option of choosing whether to opt for the reserved and unreserved category for the final selection of service,” department secretary Ajoy Kumar Singh said.