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Thursday, June 30, 2022

AAP keeps Punjab poll promise, free power up to 300 units a month

Must pay entire amount if over 600 units used in 2 months

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh |
Updated: April 17, 2022 2:17:08 am
Aam Aadmi Party convenor Arvind Kejriwal and Punjab unit president Bhagwant Mann during a press conference in Ludhiana.

From July 1, domestic consumers in Punjab will not have to pay for power up to 300 units per month. Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann made the announcement as he completed a month in office.

Mann also said that bill arrears up to 2 KW until December 31, 2021, would be waived for all consumers, farmers would continue to get power free, and there would be no change in the power tariff for industrialists.

For many domestic consumers however, receiving the benefits of free power will be contingent on restricting their consumption below 600 units for every billing cycle of two months. Therefore, anyone who consumes more than 600 units will be billed for the entire consumption, not just for the excess above 600 units.

This condition will not apply to Scheduled Castes, Backward Classes, Below Poverty Line (BPL), and freedom fighters consumers, who will get 600 units free in all cases. “If they utilise more than 600 units, they will pay only for those units,” Chief Minister Mann said. The free power ceiling for these categories of consumers is currently 200 units.

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The Chief Minister also announced an incentive for bigger consumers to cut their consumption.

“I have a request for well-to-do families,” he said. “If they can reduce consumption by up to 600 units in two months, they will get 600 units of power free.”

Punjab, Mann said, will make power the cheapest in the country for consumers of all categories. “The Chief Minister of Delhi has made power cheapest in the country. That is why we have taken guidance from him; sent officials to him to take advice.” he said, referring to Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader Arvind Kejriwal.

“The money that you save on power, you can spend on your children. Your life will become easier. We will fulfill each and every election promise over the next five years. We will save the exchequer money and return it to the people,” Mann said.

Explained

Will add to subsidy burden

FREE POWER will substantially increase the subsidy burden on the state. The Punjab government already picks up a Rs 6,000 crore annual subsidy tab for free power to farmers, and Rs 4,000 crore for charging nearly 22 lakh SC/BC/BPL families less.

In June 2021, Kejriwal had first promised 300 units of free power every month to consumers in Punjab, on the lines of Delhi. Consumers in Punjab were at the time paying the most for power in the country.

There are 73.80 lakh domestic power consumers in the state. Nearly 62.25 lakh — almost 85 per cent — consume up to 300 units per month. The government’s subsidy bill on this account is expected to cross Rs 5,500 crore annually.

The free power bill for farmers amounts to Rs 6,000 crore per annum. The subsidy bill for 21.83 lakh domestic SC/BC/BPL families comes to about Rs 4,000 crore. This group of beneficiaries pays only Rs 1.19 per unit of electricity up to a load of 7 KW .

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