Police use water cannons as AAP holds protests outside CM Amarinder Singh’s home

AAP workers protest outside the residence of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday. (Express photo)

Scores of AAP workers, led by state president Bhagwant Mann and Leader of Opposition Harpal Cheema, held a massive protest outside the residence of Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday against the recent hike in electric charges. Chandigarh Police used water cannons to stop the AAP workers from moving towards the CM's residence and later detained Mann, Harpal Cheema, and MLA Rupinder Ruby.

The AAP, which is the main Opposition party in the state Assembly, had called for a 'gherao' of Amarinder Singh’s residence over the issue of power tariff and power purchase agreements signed during previous SAD-BJP regime with private plants. Punjab's electricity board had increased the power tariff by 2.14 per cent for 2019-20.

The issue of Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) was made a pre-poll issue by Congress. The party had promised that after coming to power it would terminate the agreements. But the promises were not kept on the plea that there was no legal way to do this.

AAP had demanded the scrapping of the expensive power purchase agreements (PPAs) inked by the previous SAD-BJP regime and alleged that the Congress government had succumbed to the pressure of powerful power mafia.

On Wednesday, Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal alleged that private power thermal power companies were given “undue benefit” of Rs 1,400 crore by the Congress-led government in Punjab and sought an independent probe into the matter.

The SAD president said that the power purchase agreements with the private players were done by SAD-BJP government "on the basis of standard PPA document of the union government at a time when Manmohan Singh was the Prime Minister".

“In case there is anything wrong in the PPAs they should be canceled. In fact, it is strange why this was not done since three years. The entire PPA and how it was drafted under the leadership of Dr Manmohan Singh should be probed,” Badal had said.

On Thursday, Finance Minister Manpreet Singh Badal raised the matter in Cabinet with other ministers joining in to demand a review of power purchase agreements with these plants.