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Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Ahead of polls, CM Channi rolls out power relief, cuts rate by Rs 3 per unit

Various political parties have also been harping on the issue, saying Punjab’s power rates are the most expensive among all the states. 

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh |
Updated: November 2, 2021 9:33:22 am
ChanniChief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi said that the move to slash unit price by Rs 3 makes Punjab’s power tariff the cheapest in the country. (File photo)

IN A major relief for domestic power consumers, the Punjab government Monday slashed the price of a unit by Rs 3 across three slabs for those with loads of upto 7 KW. Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi said that the move, which is expected to lead to tariff cuts of upto 75 per cent, will cover 95 per cent of households in the state.

Channi, however, said that there will be no relief for those having a load of over 7 KW. “We thought that the rich and the landlords, who run 20 ACs in their houses, do not need this benefit,” he said.

“The minimum price of a unit at Rs 1.19 (in the lowest slab) is the cheapest in the country. No other state is providing it at such a low rate.

Our BPL families, having a load of upto 1 KW, are getting power free of cost,” said A Venu Prasad, chairman and managing director, Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL).

Officials said that a detailed break-up, including savings for an average household, will be made available soon.

Monday’s decision is expected to add a burden of Rs 3,316 crore on the state exchequer. Officials said the state is already paying Rs 10,000 crore in power subsidy to farmers, SCs and various categories of industries every year.

The subsidy bill has now gone up to Rs 14,000 crore. “The subsidy bill of Punjab is now seven times that of Delhi, which provides a subsidy of Rs 2,000 crore,” Channi said, in an indirect reference to AAP which is a strong contender at the next state polls.

Channi said his government’s latest move will benefit 69 lakh out of 71.75 lakh domestic consumers in Punjab.

According to the new tariff structure, consumers with a load of up to 2 KW will now pay Rs 1.19 per unit upto 100 units — down from Rs 4.19 per unit earlier. From 101 units to 300 units, they will pay Rs 4.01 per unit — down from Rs 7.01. And above 300 units, every unit will cost Rs 5.76 — down from Rs 8.76.

For consumers with a power load between 2 KW to 7 KW, every unit in the three slabs will cost Rs 1.49, Rs 4.01 and Rs 4.76, respectively.

With state elections coming up next year, the move is being seen as a key step by the Congress government to regain its political image that was dented severely with the infighting that led to Captain Amarinder Singh’s ouster as CM and Navjot Singh Sidhu’s appointment as the party’s state chief.

The high power tariffs in the state was a key political issue in Punjab, and had figured on the 18-point agenda handed by the Congress high command to former Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

Channi also said that the government is planning to bring a Bill in the upcoming Vidhan Sabha session to terminate the existing power purchase agreements reached with three private thermal plants.

The Chief Minister said that PSPCL has picked two solar companies to supply power upto 250 MW at a “record lowest rate” of Rs 2.33 per unit. Similarly, PSPCL has allotted 150 MW of solar plants to be established within eight months in Punjab that will offer power at Rs 2.69 per unit.

He said the government has already waived the dues of consumers with a load of less than 2 KW. The government will bear the resulting expenditure of Rs 1,500 crore for the move that will benefit 15 lakh consumers, especially the poor, Channi said.

To benefit medium scale industries, the Chief Minister said, the government has already reduced fixed charges by 50 per cent. The government will bear the additional expenditure of Rs 150 crore for the move that will benefit 35,000 medium scale units, Channi said.

 

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