Sukhbir asks Amarinder to cancel PPAs, but ensure power shortfall covered at cheaper rates

·3-min read

Chandigarh, Jul 5 (PTI) Under fire from the ruling Congress and the AAP over signing 'faulty' power-purchase pacts during its regime, SAD chief Sukhbir Singh Badal asked Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Monday to scrap these agreements but also ensure that any power shortfall is covered at cheaper rates.

His statement came two days after the chief minister said his government would soon announce its legal strategy to counter the 'ill-conceived' PPAs during the previous SAD-BJP rule.

He had also said these PPAs, which were already under review, had put an 'atrociously unnecessary' financial burden on the state.

Singh had said of the 139 PPAs signed by the previous SAD-BJP government, 17 were enough to cater to the state's full power demand.

Addressing the media here, Badal asked Singh why his government did not cancel the PPAs in the last four-and-a-half years.

'Why are you making political statements now?' he asked, while asserting that whatever decision the government takes should be in the interest of the state.

Stating that Punjabis want cheap power, the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) chief said if this is possible by cancelling the PPAs signed with three private thermal plant companies, then the same should be annulled.

'However, Amarinder Singh should take the responsibility of covering the shortfall of 4,500 MW of power at cheaper rates so that Punjabis do not suffer due to this step,' he said.

Badal asked the Congress government to provide affordable and round-the-clock power to people as was being done by the previous SAD-BJP government, instead of politicising the issue of fixed electricity charges paid to all thermal plants to 'cover up its mismanagement' on the power front.

'The issue of fixed charges is being politicised by both the Congress and the AAP even though they know the truth that this charge is applicable on private and government thermal plants as well as on power purchased from outside the state,' he said.

Badal said while the fixed charge for the private thermal plants is Rs 1.50 per unit, the government thermal plants were paid Rs 2.35 per unit when they were closed.

'Punjab has paid a fixed charge of Rs 7,000 crore to government thermal plants during the last five years, according to the State Electricity Regulatory Commission figures,' he said.

Alleging that the Congress government is 'playing politics' on the issue of establishment of private thermal plants, Badal said those were established after much thought due to a huge shortfall in 2007.

He said the shortfall occurred because the then Congress government led by Singh did not add a single megawatt of power to the state's kitty, leading to overloaded sub-stations and massive power cuts of 10 hours daily.

Badal said the SAD-led regime took the decision to make Punjab a power-surplus state and followed a standard PPA document created by the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government to establish captive thermal plants in the private sector.

He said the PPAs were signed to purchase power for Rs 2.86 to Rs 2.89 per unit, the cheapest at that time.

The SAD president alleged that the present Congress government has again not added a single megawatt of power, despite knowing that the demand is increasing by 500 MW every year. PTI CHS VSD RC

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