Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu, who has been pummeling Chief Minister Amarinder Singh with accusations over the past few months, hit out at the Punjab government on Friday over the state’s power crisis.
Asking the Chief Minister to “act in the right direction”, Sidhu listed a host of reasons that are causing Punjab’s power woes. “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 and 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,” he wrote on Twitter.
He added, “Badal government had 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.”
The comments come at a time when the Punjab government, which is already reeling under an unprecedented power crisis, ordered curtailment in timings of government offices from Friday, and cutting down of power supply to energy-guzzling industries with immediate effect, to save crops and ease the domestic power situation.
Urging the government to bring in legislation to declare the agreements null and void, the senior Congress leader said, “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.”
Hitting out at the Amarinder Singh-led government for giving “unreasonable and exuberant profits to private thermal plants”, Sidhu asked them to focus on the welfare of the people by providing them subsidies on power tariffs and investing the money into healthcare and education.
“Punjab’s revenue per unit of consumption is one of the lowest in India due to gross mismanagement of the complete power purchase and supply system. PSPCL pays Rs 0.18 per unit “extra” on every unit supplied, even after receiving over Rs 9,000 crore in subsidy from the state,” he said.
After prolonged silence and detachment from party affairs, Sidhu started targeting Amarinder Singh in the recent months, becoming a problem that the party would find hard to ignore in the run-up to the Punjab polls. In an interview to The Indian Express, he had said that he was “not a showpiece” which can be used to win elections and then “selfish vested interests can override the interests of Punjab”.
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