Thermal pant closure: Employees block Bathinda state highway, to hold gate rally today

POWER MINISTER Rana Gurjit Singh on Thursday justified closure of four units of Bathinda and two units of Ropar thermal plant as he said that no employee will be retrenched and they will be adjusted within the department.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Ludhiana | Published: December 22, 2017 1:32:21 am
punjab thermal plant closure protest Employees protest in Bathinda Thursday. (Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh) 

GURU NANAK Dev Thermal Plant (GNDTP) Employees Federation blocked the Bathinda-Muktsar state highway on Thursday to protest the closure of Bathinda thermal plant from January 1, 2018. The employees have a gate rally planned for Friday. The assets of this thermal plant have been assessed at Rs 495 crore. The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) Engineers Association too has condemned the decision of the Punjab government to give a go ahead to closure of four units of Bathinda thermal plant and two units of Ropar thermal plant.

Engineers association has asked the state government to issue a White Paper indicating benefits to the state on account of the decision to close thermal units, including reduction in tariff of consumers, if any. Engineers once again raised the issue of spending Rs 715 core on the maintenance of the Bathinda thermal plant from year 2002-2007. According to PSEB engineers association, the maintenance has extended the plant’s life from 2022-2029, while decision of closure came much before that. Gursewak Singh, president of co-ordination committee of employees, said, “Total reliance on private sector will be disturbing the balance of generating power through state-owned and private generation plants.”

Vinod Gupta from the PSEB Engineers Association said, “As per the figures available with us, Rs 3000 crore per annum is being paid by Punjab government to the private generators as fixed charges without receiving any power.” While the state claims to be power surplus, engineers association said that Punjab will be power deficit by 2022 as without the availability of all four units of Bathinda and two units of Ropar declared to be retired now, the addition of 5775 MW power by 2022 is doubtful.

The protesters also questioned the loss figure of Rs 1300 crore quoted by the state government. “Government should explain to the public that if power is said to be available at Rs 2.50 per unit then why is it procured from private generators at much higher cost.” Punjab State Power Corporation Limited pays Rs 1.23 per unit as fixed charges to Talwandi Sabo thermal plant, while Rs 2.20 per unit and Rs 1.43 per unit to thermal plants of Goindwal Sahib and Rajpura, respectively. Engineers association pointed out that Sasan mega power project set up in Madhya Pradesh with the same technology had lower fixed cost of Rs 0.16 per unit only. On January 1, engineers will wear black badges, while employees federation, who have also approached the High Court, will continue their protests unabated, said Jaswinder Brar, general secretary of the GNDTP Employees Federation.

Jobs safe, no need to protest, says Power Minister 

POWER MINISTER Rana Gurjit Singh on Thursday justified closure of four units of Bathinda and two units of Ropar thermal plant as he said that no employee will be retrenched and they will be adjusted within the department. He even claimed that affordable power will be provided to masses as per Congress’s promise. He was at PAU Thursday morning to attend a symposium regarding celebrations of 350th year of Guru Gobind Singh’s Parkash Utsav. He stated that employees should not protest as their jobs are safe.

He added that providing power at Rs 5 per unit was Congress party’s poll promise and it will be adhered to. He stated that subsidised power to industry will be provided from January 1, 2018.

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