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Monday, April 19, 2021

Two ministers object to Punjab govt’s draft white paper on PPAs

The CM had ordered a white paper on the power scenario in the state in January last year. The directions came when the government was on the defensive on the issue of inflated power bills. Electricity is very expensive in Punjab.

Written by Kanchan Vasdev | Chandigarh |
March 26, 2021 9:26:55 am
The CM had in a recent press conference stated that these PPAs were legal documents and it was difficult to touch them. (File)

OVER A year after Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh promised a white paper on the controversial Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) effected in the state during the previous government’s tenure, the draft is ready but the ministers who were asked to go through it are not satisfied with the contents.

While the government plans to table the white paper in the next session of Vidhan Sabha, two ministers who attended the meeting with officials in the presence of the CM on Wednesday objected to the draft, stating that it was inadequate, it is learnt.

The CM had asked four ministers to participate in a meeting on Wednesday. While Industries Minister Sunder Sham Arora and Education Minister Vijay Inder Singla skipped the meeting, Rural Development and Panchayats Minister Tript Rajinder Singh Bajwa and Jails Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa attended.

Sources said the draft “revolves around figures and is silent on nailing the guilty”. While Bajwa is learnt to have told the meeting that the draft was prepared “by the same officials who were instrumental in preparing the controversial PPAs”, it would send a “wrong message” to the public.

Randhawa is learnt to have told the meeting that the manifesto of the Congress had promised cancellation of PPAs and also promised that those responsible would be named in the white paper. But the draft is silent on this promise, sources privy to the meeting said.

The CM had ordered a white paper on the power scenario in the state in January last year. The directions came when the government was on the defensive on the issue of inflated power bills. Electricity is very expensive in Punjab. The PPAs come into the picture as the government has to pay the private thermal plants sustenance allowance even when the government is not purchasing power from them. This makes power expensive in Punjab.

The controversial PPAs were a huge political issue in Punjab before the Congress came to power. Congress leader Sunil Kumar Jakhar, who is now the PPCC chief, had blown the lid off the alleged scam in the form of PPAs stating that the agreements favoured private thermal plants. He had promised that if the Congress is voted to power, it will do away with PPAs.

The CM had in a recent press conference stated that these PPAs were legal documents and it was difficult to touch them.

The government has already taken legal advice from Advocate General Atul Nanda on the issue and is in the process of bringing a white paper.

 

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