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AAP govt keeps its word, free 300 units of power for Punjab comes into effect

The announcement came from Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, who in a video message said that the guarantee would be rolled out from Friday. He said that up to 300 units of electricity would be free for Punjab power consumers from this month.

Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann. (File)

The Punjab government on Friday rolled out its first pre-election guarantee of providing 300 units of free power every month to the residents of the state.

The announcement came from Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann, who in a video message said that the guarantee would be rolled out from Friday. He said that up to 300 units of electricity would be free for Punjab power consumers from this month.

“You may get bills of previous months, but not from this month. The units would be free for every consumer from December 31, 2021, onwards irrespective of the load.”

The formal announcement came on Friday after Mann met AAP’s national convener and Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal in the national capital.

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During the election campaign last year, Kejriwal had promised the people of Punjab to provide 300 units of free electricity to the state power consumers if AAP was voted to power.

Lashing out at previous governments for looting the people of Punjab for decades, CM Mann said, “While all other governments took five full years to keep their word, our government has fulfilled its major guarantee within three months of coming to power. From today, every family across Punjab will get 300 units of free power each month.”

All other remaining promises will be fulfilled soon, Mann added.

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Mann also clarified that his government has waived off arrears of electricity bills – pending till December 31, 2021 – of all households.

“AAP does what it says, people of Punjab to now get free electricity in Punjab,” Kejriwal tweeted.

“Congratulations to the people of Punjab. From today onwards, the people of Punjab will get 300 units of electricity free of cost. Lakhs of families will now have zero electricity bills every month. We have fulfilled our promise. The Aam Aadmi Party does what it says. People of Punjab will get rid of expensive electricity,” Kejriwal wrote in his tweet.

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Senior AAP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha said that Friday (July 1, 2022) was a historic day as Punjab has now become the second state in the country after Delhi to get free electricity. ‘Kejriwal’s first guarantee’ has become a reality for Punjabis, he added.

Meanwhile, the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited ( PSPCL) is yet to get a notification on the free power issue.

Billing cycle of consumers is likely to start from mid-July and hence PSPCL authorities are expecting a notification before the next billing cycle starts.

As per the PSPCL data, out of 73.80 lakh domestic consumers, 62.25 lakh consumers come under the category of consuming 300 units per month (i.e. 84% of the total consumers).

However, power consumers are still apprehensive about the free power announcement. They are afraid if the government will impose any terms and conditions for availing of this benefit.

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Power Minister Harbhajan Singh ETO in a tweet said, “Many governments spend 5 years to implement their promises but AAP has implemented its first guarantee of free power within 3 months of coming to power. We will deliver whatever we promised.”

It was during former CM Charanjit Channi’s government that power tariff for domestic consumers was slashed with effect from November 1, 2021.

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Tariff for consumers with load up to 7 kw was slashed by Rs 3 per unit. For first 100 units, tariff for consumers with 2 kw load after slashing the rates was Rs 1.19 per unit, and for those with 2-7 kw load was Rs 1.49 per unit.

For both categories, rates for 101-300 units after slashing prices stood at Rs 4.01 per unit. All these rates include 20% taxes and are still applicable.

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“PSPCL hasn’t shed light on whether the government will come back to old tariff – which can burden the consumers whose consumption will be more than 300 units per month in order to pass on free power benefit to domestic consumers with consumption up to 300 units per month,” Mazdoor Mukti Morcha president Bhagwant Samao said.

The SC/ST category will also get similar benefit. However, if their load is 1 kw, they will be charged for only extra units after two months’ billing cycle, if load is more than 1 kw, facility of free 600 units for two months will be given, and if consumption exceeds 600 units, consumers will be charged full bill. For the rest general category consumers there is no condition of sanctioned load but if their consumption increases by more than 600 units bimonthly, they will be charged full tariff.

This subsidy will add a burden of Rs 1,800 crore as per calculations of the government. But Harbhajan ETO said, “The finance department has already earmarked this fund for consumers.”

First published on: 01-07-2022 at 10:09:28 pm
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