Chandigarh, Jul 4 (PTI) Congress MP Partap Singh Bajwa on Sunday said Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh's announcement that the state government will be reviewing the power purchase agreements (PPAs) signed during the SAD-BJP regime is extremely delayed but absolutely necessary.
Bajwa, a strident critic of Singh, also said the state government has not yet fulfilled its promise of releasing a white paper on the PPAs.
On Saturday, Singh said his government will soon announce a legal strategy to counter the 'ill-conceived' PPAs signed during the SAD-BJP rule which have put an 'atrociously unnecessary' financial burden on the state.
He said of the 139 power purchase agreements (PPAs) signed during the SAD-BJP rule, 17 were enough to cater to the state's full electricity demand. The remaining 122 PPAs for 1,314 MWs of expensive power were inexplicably signed.
In a statement, Bajwa said, 'The statement made by the Chief Minister of Punjab that the state government is reviewing the ill-conceived PPAs signed by the previous SAD-BJP government is extremely delayed but absolutely necessary.' 'These PPAs have been an albatross hanging around Punjab's neck, bleeding the state exchequer dry,' he said.
'The government has had over four years to focus on this issue. A suitable conclusion must be reached to ensure that the people of Punjab are no longer cheated by these agreements,' Bajwa said.
'I must further point out that the Government of Punjab had promised a white paper on the issue in March 2020. Nearly 16 months later, no such information has been released by the state,' he said.
Notably, the Congress, before coming to power in 2017, had promised that it would renegotiate the existing PPAs to ensure low-cost power.
Bajwa said the state government should also ensure 300 units of free power for every household.
'It is well known that the state of Punjab provides over Rs 6,000 crore as power subsidy to the agriculture sector and Rs 4,000 crore to other sectors. Given the large social net covered by the present subsidies, to extend (300 units of free power) to every household across the state would be overall beneficial to the people of Punjab,' he said.
The MP also sought action against the erring officials of the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) for the current power crisis in the state.
'The PSPCL must be held accountable for it being chronically unprepared for the supply of uninterrupted power. Heads must roll and the government must take stern action against the erring officials,' he said.
Punjab has been reeling under an unprecedented power shortage with urban and rural areas facing long hours of load shedding amid scorching heat.
The Congress-led government has been under fire from the opposition for not being able to provide sufficient electricity to consumers, especially to paddy growers for sowing their crops.
The PSPCL has blamed the failure of one unit of the Talwandi Sabo power plant and a prolonged dry spell for the power crisis in the state. PTI CHS VSD DIV DIV