Opposition parties in Punjab hit out at the state’s Congress government for the hike in power tariff terming it a “draconian and anti-people” move. They also demanded an immediate withdrawal of the hike. The AAP, SAD and BJP were unanimous in the condemnation of the hike of 9.33 per cent in power tariff and called it a betrayal of the people of the state.
BJP national secretary Tarun Chugh said that the Gurdaspur bylection result has gone to the head of the Chief Minister who has assumed that now he was in a position to blatantly take anti-people decisions. “The decision comes just a week after Gurdaspur bypoll result and will hit domestic consumers, traders and industrialists hard as they would have to shell out 12 per cent more in the form of tariff hike,” he said.
The BJP leader said that a 80 paise per unit raise for domestic consumers using up to 500 units per month and a 65 paise per unit increase for small industries was a big blow which these classes won’t be in a position to bear. “Congress made lofty promises to the people but has miserably failed to keep them. It promised to waive off entire loan of farmers, employment to one person in a family, unemployment allowance of Rs 2500 till the youth got a job, smartphones to every youth and also to raise the Shagun Scheme amount to Rs 51,000. Instead of delivering on what it promised, the government has burdened the people with the hike in power tariff,” Chugh said.
SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said the Congress government had yet again deceived the people by increasing tariff for both domestic and industrial supply even as it was making promises of supplying cheap power to all categories including the industrial sector at Rs five per unit.
In a statement, Sukhbir said Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh had made an announcement one month after assuming power that all consumers would be supplied power at the rate of Rs 5 per unit. “However, the government did not communicate this decision to the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC). Instead the state electricity utility – PSPCL asked for an increase in power tariff. The same has been approved by the PSERC today,” he said.
Sukhbir said the Cabinet had approved power supply for industrial sector at Rs 5 per unit only one week back and now the entire industry had been burdened with an unbearable increase between 8.5 to 11.88 per cent. “What is tragic is that the power tariff increase is the most for small industrial units (11.88) percent. This will effectively kill the small industrial sector which is already passing through a challenging phase,” he added.
The SAD president said domestic consumers who had been promised cheaper power both before and after the elections by the Congress had also been betrayed.
Leader of Opposition Sukhpal Khaira said that AAP condemns the approximate 10 per cent hike in electricity tariff and that the government should not implement this huge retrospective hike. “It will further add to the woes of ordinary people already facing steep inflation. We demand a roll back of this draconian hike,” he said.