Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee chief and Gurdaspur MP Sunil Jakhar said on Saturday that the government was preparing to get a third party audit of Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with all three private thermal plants that were signed by the previous government. Talking to the media in Chandigarh Saturday, Jakhar said that tenders were being floated and a private company would be engaged for the audit. He said the recent power hike had been forced on the people of Punjab by the Badals. They had signed a tripartite Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the BJP-led central government and the PSPCL for hiking power tariff in the state every year.
“The real culprit is Sukhbir Badal, who signed the MoU under the UDAY scheme on March 4, 2016, in the presence of his alliance partner and Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal. Sukhbir had agreed to hike power tariffs in Punjab on a yearly basis in order to implement the Ujwal Discom Assurance Scheme of the Government of India,” he said.
As per the UDAY MoU, the Badals had agreed to a 5 per cent hike in power tariff for 2016-17 and 9 per cent for 2017-18. “Political compulsions, in view of the Assembly polls, however, forced the Badals to not hike power tariff in 2016-17”, Jakhar said. He added that they instead resorted to political gimmickry by slashing the tariff by 0.65 per cent in that fiscal. “If SAD is really concerned about the problems of the people of Punjab, they should stop misleading the people and hold their proposed dharans outside the Badals’ house. Modi and Piyush Goyal are the real culprits as the tariff hike by PSERC are in line with the UDAY MoU,” he said. “By blaming the Congress and Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh for this hike, the senior Badal was either trying to fool the people or was once again exhibiting the selective amnesia that he suffers from,” added Jakhar.
He said that by signing this MoU, Punjab had not gained in any manner. He said that apparently, the Badals had signed this MoU under pressure from Modi. “They gave in to Modi’s demands as they were scared that he may open some inquiry against them”, he said. Another reason for higher power tariffs in the state was the “illogical” decision of the Badal government to sign Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) with private thermal plants at unreasonably higher rates, Jakhar said.
He said the Akali-BJP government had signed PPAs with Sterlite for a 1980 MW Talwandi Sabo thermal plant, with L&T for 1400 MW Rajpura Thermal Palnt and with GVK for 500 MW Goindwal Sahib Thermal plant, and agreed to pay them exceptionally high fixed charges per unit. “The Badal government had agreed to pay fixed charges at much higher rates in comparison to other thermal plants in India of similar capacity and technology that were installed during the same period by the Congress governmnet led by Dr Manmohan Singh,” the PPCC chief said.
He revealed that Punjab was paying fixed charges at Rs 1.35 per unit to Talwandi, at Rs 1.50 per unit to Rajpura and at Rs 1.93 per unit to Goindwal Sahib thermal plants. Whereas, fixed charges for Mundra thermal plant were at 90 paisa per unit and for Sasan thermal plant at 17 paisa per unit only. He said that this data can be verified from the recent PSERC tariff order 2017-18. He said as per the PSERC tariff order during 2017-18, Punjab is to purchase 6095 MUs from Talwandi thermal plant at a cost of Rs 3293 crore, which amounts to Rs 5.40 per unit, 1223 MUs from Goindwal Sahib at a cost of Rs 1064 crore, which works out to Rs 8.70 per unit, and 8694 MUs from Rajpura thermal plant at a cost of Rs 3,302 crore, which amounts to Rs 3.80 per unit. He said in comparison, the cost for 4724 MUs from Sasan was merely Rs 1.32 per unit, and Rs 2.20 per unit for the 3162 MUs generated from Munrda.
Jakhar also reminded the Badals that while power tariff during the previous regime of Capt Amarinder Singh (2002-07) was raised by 22.51% (average 4.5% per year) in five years, they (the SAD-BJP) had made a hike of 77.33% (average 7.73% per year) in their decade-long “misrule”.