Unearthing a series of scams in the power sector by the Akali –BJP government, the Aam Aadmi Party today issued a “White Paper on Punjab Power Scenario” which exposes the real story behind the much hyped claim of making Punjab a “Power Surplus State” and details how massive irregularities have led to doubling of electricity rates in last nine years of this government.The paper released by AAP Spokesperson and Senior leader Chander Suta Dogra and Head legal wing, Himmat Singh Shergill brings out annual loss of Rs 3745 crores, as a result of a special power generation policy for private power plants and faulty power purchase agreements (PPA) under which the government is not only paying huge sums to private thermal power plants (Talwandi Sabo, Rajpura and Goindwal Sahib) as fixed capacity charges, for sitting idle during low demand periods, but purchasing expensive power from them at other times.
State owned thermal power plants that produce cheaper power are forced to produce less than half of their capacity. As against their capacity to generate more than 17000 Million Units annually, they will be generating only 7308 Million Units in 2016-17, so that state can buy more power from expensive private producers. This is a result of the government’s exaggerated projection of power shortage on the basis of which new projects were approved in the last few years. The surplus power capacity of 18000 Million Units in the private sector is a load of Rs 2500 crores, now borne by helpless consumers of Punjab. Faulty power purchase agreements give benefits to the private producers and no concessions to Punjab.The most tragic case is of Goindwal Sahib by the GVK group, wherein PSERC has approved PSPCL proposal to surrender 100% power in the very first year of its operation while paying Rs 413.75 Cr as fixed capacity charge, said Ms Dogra.
A comparison of the Punjab Generation Policy 2010 with Gujarat Power Policy 2009 shows that even the 20 % concessional power which Gujarat based private power producers give to that state if the fuel tie up is done on the recommendations of the state government, is not available to Punjab. This leads to an additional loss of Rs 774 crores annually.The Aam Aadmi Party will review these agreements and the Power Generation Policy of 2010 and get a high level investigation done to fix accountability of those who are responsible for it.As if this was not enough, the government did not even recover Rs 1230 crores of Liquidated Damages from private power companies when they did not commission the new plants on time, as is provided for in the agreements. As a result not only did the consumers have to suffer power cuts due to non availability of power, but the state was forced to purchase expensive power from outside.
Then, instead of augmenting the distribution system on war footing to enable the extra power to reach every consumer without power cuts, the government presided over another Rs 437 crores bungling in upgradation of distribution systems under the Centre’s RAPDRP (Restructured Accelerated Power Development Reforms Programme) scheme . PSPCL awarded the total works for Rs 1717 crores against departmental cost of Rs 1280 crores and payment terms were changed to favour firms. One of the companies awarded the contract was A2Z owned by the family of chief minister’s son in law Adesh Pratap Singh Kairon, a clear conflict of interest as Prakash Singh Badal was holding the power minister’s portfolio at that time.Combined average cost of electricity supply has gone up from 329.94 paise/unit in 2006-07 to 597.95 paise/unit in 2016-17
The paper also exposes how more than 80 per cent of burden on free electricity subsidy to agriculture sector, is actually being passed on to domestic, commercial and industrial consumers.
Out of Rs 5196 crores of agricultural subsidy this year, Rs 4235 crores is being recovered from all other consumers by way of cross subsidy and unprecedentedly high 18 % electricity duty. Of this Rs 1495 crores is the cross subsidy passed on to domestic, industrial and commercial consumers, among others and Rs 2650 crores is the amount generated from 13% ED + 5% from Infrastructure Development Fund. Instead of this money being spent on strengthening infrastructure of power sector, it is deposited in the state treasury. Still the government does not pay its full subsidy dues to the PSPCL. Against Rs 5592 crores that the government has to pay this year, the PSPCL received only Rs 500 crores upto June 2016.
The AAP leaders clarified that their party’s government will honour the commitment to give free electricity to farmers but will not shirk its responsibility towards any other category of consumer.But even though consumers are burdened with heavy tariff, top Akali leaders have ensured that supporters in their areas are insulated from the high tariffs being paid by rest of Punjab, as massive power theft between 30 to 42 per cent is taking place there. (See table given in the White Paper) The Aam Aadmi Party demands that details of checking by Vigilance in these areas and the amount recovered from defaulters be made public.
The White Paper on Power also discloses how the captive Pachwara coal block in Jharkhand re-allocated to Punjab in March 2015 has caught fire and Punjab government is importing coal from South Africa through M/s Adani Enterprises for its three state owned thermal power plants at Bathinda, Lehra Mohabbat and Ropar. In last one year 6 lakh tonnes worth Rs 500 crores was imported and little effort was made to put out fire in own coal mine and make arrangements to extract its own coal. This has led to loss between Rs 600 to 800 crores annually.