Jails Minister Sukhjinder Randhawa and the MLAs with the ‘black paper’. (Express Photo)
A day after AICC interim president Sonia Gandhi raised the issue of expensive power in Punjab, a group of Congress MLAs led by Cabinet Minister Sukhjinder Singh Randhawa released a “Black Paper” on power agreements done by previous SAD-BJP regime.
Randhawa, flanked by nine Congress MLAs, released the “Black Paper” a few days after Chief Minister Amarinder Singh announced that his government would be releasing a White Paper on controversial Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) so as to tell the people of Punjab how Akalis benefitted the private thermal plants by burdening the people.
While Amarinder said the government would require at least six months to prepare the white paper and table it in Monsoon Session of Vidhan Sabha, Randhawa said they would take up the matter with the Chief Minister so that the white paper is table in Budget Session likely to be organised in February-end.
Randhawa had nine Congress MLAs and Punjab Youth Congress President by his side. They included, Pargat Singh, Kuldeep Singh Vaid, Darshan Lal, Darshan Singh Brar, Kulbir Singh Zira, Parminder Singh Pinki, Gurkirat Kotli, Sukhpal Bhullar and Davinder Singh Ghubaya and PYC president Barinder Singh Dhillon.
While addressing the media, Randhawa demanded action against leaders of previous regime and the state officers who were involved in preparing the power policy of the state and caused a loss of crores to the state exchequer to benefit the private players.
He said, “While Punjab copied Gujarat’s Power Policy it deleted Clause 9 and 11 of the Gujarat policy.” Showing a copy of Gujarat’s policy, Randhawa added that the policy in Clause 11 provided for invocation of first right of refusal to the government. In Punjab’s agreement, the Clause 9 talked about the PPAs between the government and private players for
25 years .
About SAD chief Sukhbir Badal’s allegation that the government was involved in a scam worth Rs 4100 crore, Randhawa said it was the Akalis who were responsible for the mess. Daring Sukhbir for a debate on the issue, Randhawa said, “Sukhbir was saying that the policy was based on former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s guidelines, but then how come Gujarat had it in government’s favour? While Gujarat’s policy said they would purchase as much as power as required, and the thermal plant could sell it to whoever it wanted, Punjab’s policy said it would purchase 100 per cent power and would pay fixed charges to the white elephants (power plants).”
He said SAD-BJP government in which Sukhbir Badal the Power Minister, paid Rs 6553 crore to these power plants from 2014 to 2017. He said this information was received by the Congress through RTI during SAD-BJP regime.
He added that Sukhbir kept on claiming that they were providing power to the people at Rs 2.86 per unit but in SAD’s manifesto the per unit cost of power was shown to be for Rs 6.50.
‘Will cancel agreements’
Randhawa said the government would cancel the PPAs after a debate in Vidhan Sabha. On a question whether the government will be able to do it, Randhawa said, “We will demand that from the Chief Minister.”
‘Government was lax’
Asked why the government lost cases in Supreme Court and High Court that resulted in loss to the state exchequer and the burden being transferred to the people, Randhawa said, “I admit there was a laxity. We made a mistake by allowing the lawyers engaged during Akali time to fight the cases. We should have changed the lawyers.” About fixing accountability for the laxity, Randhawa said, “The Chief Minister will tell whether it was AG Atul Nanda or someone else in the government. I just want to say that the AG should personally appear in every case that holds importance for the government.”