Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir Singh Badal on Monday asked the Congress government in Punjab to provide affordable and dependable round-the-clock power to people as was being done by his government instead of politicising the issue of fixed power paid to all thermal plants to cover up its mismanagement on the power front.The SAD chief told the media here that the issue of fixed charges was being politicised both by the Congress and AAP even though they knew the truth that this charge was applicable on private and government thermal plants as well as power purchased from outside the state."Punjab has paid a fixed charge of Rs 7,000 crore to government thermal plants during the last five years as per State Electricity Regulatory Commission figures."Asserting that Punjabis wanted cheap power, Badal said if this was possible by cancelling the private purchase agreements (PPAs) done with three private thermal plant companies then the same should be annulled. "However Chief Minister 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."Stating that the Congress government was playing politics on the issue of establishment of private thermal plants, Badal said the plants were established after much thought due to huge shortfall in 2007.He said this shortfall occurred because the Congress government led by Amarinder Singh from 2002 to 2007 did not add a single megawatts of power to the state's kitty, leading to overloaded sub-stations and massive power cuts of 10 hours daily.He said the SAD-led government took the decision to make Punjab power surplus and followed a standard PPA document created by the UPA government to establish captive thermal plants in the private sector.He said PPAs were signed to purchase power between Rs 2.86 to Rs 2.89 per unit, the cheapest at the time. "Even recently Madhya Pradesh has executed a PPA for Rs 4.75 per unit which speaks volumes of the low rates negotiated with private players by the SAD-led government."
Badal said simultaneously the previous SAD-led government spent Rs 5,000 crore in upgrading the transmission and distribution network so that it could take additional load when required. "Transmission and distribution losses were reduced from 32 per cent during Congress tenure to 14 per cent and the PSPCL was even awarded the best electricity utility award during UPA rule in 2015."The SAD President said instead of building on these achievements, the present Congress government again did not add a single mega watt of power despite knowing that demand was increasing by 500 MW every year. "This is why from a surplus status in 2017 with demand being 12,500 MW against supply of 13,000 MW, today we have a demand of 14,500 MW against a supply of less than 13,000 MW with the Bathinda thermal plant as well as two units of the Ropar plant being shut down."Badal said, "This is not all. The government has also failed to give Rs 5,000 crore due to PSPCL and government departments owe the electricity utility Rs 2,200 crore."He said this was the reason why no money had been earmarked for repair and maintenance causing untold misery to farmers and the common man during the current summer season.He said instead of taking corrective measures, the Congress government was punishing consumers by imposing a 12 per cent electricity duty tax, two per cent municipal tax, five per cent infrastructure development tax, and cow cess."All these need to be taken back immediately to provide relief to Punjabis who are already suffering due to high power tariffs which have been increased by nearly 40 per cent since 2017," Badal added.Speaking about the promises made by Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) convener Arvind Kejriwal, Badal said first AAP should ensure 300 units of free power in Delhi before making such promises in Punjab.He said this promise itself was fake as Kejriwal had clearly told in his press conference here that anyone consuming even one unit more than the promised 300 units would have to pay the entire power bill without any concession whatsoever."This is what AAP is following in Delhi also," Badal added, saying power in Delhi was one of the most expensive in the country.