Strongly opposing the decision to appoint political persons as chairpersons of Electricity Dispute Settlement Committees, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) today alleged that the ruling Akali Dal-BJP is misusing its powers to infiltrate the Punjab State Power Corp Ltd with party workers and interfere in the internal working of the Punjab State Power Corp Ltd. (PSPCL) Addressing the media, senior leader Chander Suta Dogra said that the decision of the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) is illegal and against the provisions of the Electricity Act of 2003 and the PSERC (Forum and Ombudsman) Regulations of 2005. Acting in accordance with a well thought out plan, the ruling party will use these 125 appointees for political purposes ahead of the assembly elections, because they will decide disputes according to the political affiliation of the consumers and not in public interest. She further said that instead of watching the interest of the consumer, these committees will now watch the interest of the Akali Dal- BJP combine ahead of the assembly elections.
Overruling its previous decision taken in September 2015 where a similar proposal of the government was struck down, the PSERC approved the appointing of two members from the public for the circle and divisional settlement committees. Instead of engineers of the PSPCL, now the chairpersons of these committees will be from the two members from general public who will be appointed by the deputy commissioners. The PSERC has not provided any check or safeguard against misuse of authority, nepotism or favoritism in appointment of these persons or their functioning for extraneous considerations.
The new system of functioning of the DSCs will further aggravate the problems of consumers and make them travel long distances to Patiala, for resolution of their disputes instead of having these resolved at door step. This, because instead of taking decisions by majority, now any member will be able to veto a unanimous decision of the committee which will then be decided by the Forum in Patiala. In other words people from other political parties will be harassed with non resolution of their disputes in the name of ‘public interest.’
Giving a brief background of the government’s efforts to plant political persons in the PSPCL Ms Dogra said that last year also a similar proposal was made by the government, but the then chairperson of PSERC Romila Dubey stated that “it is inconsistent with the provisions” of the Electricity Act and PSERC regulations. The PSERC under the present chairperson has accepted the government’s proposal with minor changes and the AAP has demanded that the old system of dispute resolutions where engineers from the PSPCL were the chairpersons should be immediately restored.The AAP leader also released latest figures of pending electricity dues from government departments, according to which Punjab government departments owe the PSPCL a sum of Rs 588 Crores.