July 3, 2021 3:54:48 am
Two years after he refused to accept power ministry offered by CM Amarinder Singh, former Punjab Cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Friday batted for a law to nullify the power purchase agreements (PPAs) signed during the tenure of previous SAD-BJP government as a solution to the state’s unprecedented power crisis. By picking on the power issue, Sidhu also launched a veiled attack on Amarinder by saying that there would be no need for him to go for power cuts or to regulate office timings if the state acted “in the right direction”.
At present, the state power ministry is with the CM.
The latest broadside from Sidhu also comes days after his meeting with AICC leaders Rahul and Priyanka Gandhi, and at a time when the Congress high command is working overtime to bring a truce between warring factions of the Punjab unit.
In a series of tweets on Friday, Sidhu said that there was no need for the power cuts in Punjab or for the Chief Minister to regulate office timings or ban ACs if the government acts in the right direction.
He wrote: “The truth of power costs, cuts, power purchase agreements & how to give free & 24 hour power to the people of Punjab: there is no need for power-cuts in Punjab or for the Chief Minister to regulate office timings or AC use of the common people…If we act in the right direction. Power purchase costs – Punjab is buying power at an average cost of Rs 4.54 per unit, national average is Rs 3.85 per unit & Chandigarh is paying Rs 3.44 per unit. Punjab’s over-dependence on 3 private thermal plants at Rs 5-8 per unit makes Punjab pay more than other states.”
The state government had on Thursday ordered reduction in timings of state government offices from Friday and cut down on power supply to high energy consuming industries. Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had also appealed to all government offices to make judicious use of electricity in government offices, adding that the situation was dire as the peak demand in the state had touched a whopping 14,500 MW.
On controversial PPAs, Sidhu said, “Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) — Badal Govt signed PPAs with 3 private thermal power plants in Punjab. Till 2020, Punjab has already paid Rs 5,400 crore due to faulty clauses in these agreements and is expected to pay Rs 65,000 crore of Punjab people’s money just as fixed charges.”
He said the Vidhan Sabha can bring in a new legislation “with retrospective effect to cap the power purchase costs to prices available on national power exchange at any given time.”
“Punjab may not be able to re-negotiate these PPAs due to them having legal protection from hon’ble courts, but there is a way forward,” he said, adding: “Punjab Vidhan Sabha can bring in new legislation with retrospective effect to cap power purchase costs to prices available on the National Power Exchange at any given time…Thus, by amending the law, these agreements will become null and void, saving people of Punjab’s money.”
On Monday, the AAP too had alleged that “faulty” PPAs signed during the previous government’s tenure were adversely affecting the state’s power utility. But Sidhu on Friday also took on the AAP. He said that Punjab did not need to copy the Delhi model.
“Punjab already gives Rs 9,000 crore power subsidy but Delhi gives only Rs 1,699 crore as power subsidy. If Punjab copies Delhi model, we will get merely Rs 1,600-2,000 crore as subsidy. To better serve the people of Punjab — Punjab needs an original Punjab model, not a copied model!”
“Punjab Model for Power – Money spent on giving unreasonable & exuberant profits to private thermal plants should be utilised for the welfare of people that is giving power subsidy for free power for domestic use (up to 300 units), 24 hours supply & to invest in education & health care,” he added.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines
- The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.