The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today asked Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh to come clean and tell farmers why he was doing away with free power subsidy for new agriculture tubewell connections, even as it asked farmers to shun the new scheme and force the government to extend free power facility to all agricultural consumers.In a statement here, former minister and party spokesman Maheshinder Singh Grewal said it did not behove Capt Amarinder Singh to misguide the people on such a sensitive issue when a notification to this effect had also been issued by Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC). “Instead of trying to confuse the issue he should simply tell farmers why his government has decided to impose power bills on new agriculture consumers. Isn’t this a betrayal of a solemn promise made by him and even listed in the party’s election manifesto that the free power facility extended to farmers by Sardar Parkash Singh Badal would continue under Congress rule?”, he asked.
The Akali leader said in a devious move the government had stopped release of agriculture connections under the free power category despite the fact that there was a backlog of one lakh consumers who had applied for the same. “These consumers are now being forced to take power connections under paid category. Doesn’t this amount to betraying farmers by imposing power bills on them through the back door?” he asked.Asking farmers not to take tubewell connections under the paid category, Mr Grewal said the SAD would not allow the Congress government to get away with this fraud. “More than 250 farmers have committed suicide because the government has gone back on its promise to implement the Rs 90,000 crore loan waiver pledge.
With imposition of power bills on new connections right now and all 13.5 lakh tubewell connections from the next kharif season as is being reported from government sources, the plight of farmers will worsen and suicides are expected to go up further” the Akali leader added.Asserting that the Congress government needed to learn a lesson from the commitment of Sardar Parkash Singh Badal, he said “Sardar Badal extended the free power facility to farmers in the first meeting of the cabinet after assuming the reins of the State in 1997. It has continued during the last ten years of SAD-BJP government and given a relief of Rs 70,000 crore to farmers. The Congress stopped this facility when it came to power in 2002 and is getting ready to do the same again”, Mr Grewal added.