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Akali Dal demands financial package for losses suffered by industrial sector due to ‘power lockdown’

Chandigarh: Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir Singh Badal today demanded the Congress government offer a financial package to the state industry for the losses suffered by it due to the current forced lockdown on account of power supply mismanagement. 

He also called for supplying power to the industry at the promised landing cost of Rs five per unit.

In a statement here, the SAD President said after suffering huge losses due to the Covid lockdown since the last one and a half years, the industrial sector was presently in the grip of a power lockdown with the government imposing a three day compulsory off for the industrial sector besides closing down large scale industries for five days and reducing contracted power load of continuous supply to industry by fifty per cent. 

“This has broken the back of the State industry which is suffering losses of crores of rupees on a daily basis besides losing orders”.

Asserting that Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh was directly responsible for this state of affairs as he held the Power portfolio, Sukhbir Badal said “required power purchases should be made immediately to ensure adequate power for the industrial sector”. 

He said simultaneously the industry should be offered a financial package for the losses incurred by it besides deferring collection of bills for the current cycle by two months. “Power should also be provided at a landing cost of Rs five per unit as promised by chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh”, he said while disclosing that the industry was currently paying nearly Rs ten per unit”.

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Badal also demanded holding a special session of the Vidhan Sabha to discuss the complete mismanagement of the State electricity utility. He said PSPCL, which had been declared as the best electricity utility in 2015 during the SAD government led tenure, was now finding it difficult to even supply adequate power to the consumers. 

“Rampant corruption, mismanagement and the Congress government’s failure to add a single megawatt of power in the last four and a half years has led to a situation where farmers are not getting adequate supply for their paddy crop even as unscheduled power cuts are being imposed on domestic consumers. The chief minister owes an explanation to Punjabis as to how a power surplus state during SAD tenure has become power deficient and unable to even distribute power to consumers due to lack of maintenance of the transmission and distribution system”.

Badal said despite warnings from the engineers of the electricity utility, no attempt was made to conduct any repair and maintenance work before the paddy season. “Sufficient electricity arrangements were not made due to the closure of the Bathinda thermal plant as well as two units of the Ropar plant. 

Even among the private thermal plants, one unit of the Talwandi Sabo plant has been allowed to remain closed since months. Now with its second unit also developing a snag, the power supply situation has worsened”.

Asking the Congress government to focus on providing affordable and dependable power to Punjabis, he said instead of doing this the government was trying to divert attention from its failures by talking about the Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) done with private thermal plants during SAD government tenure. 

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“If the government feels it can provide cheaper power that being given by the private thermal plants which are supplying power at Rs 2.89 per unit to PSPCL then the government should annual the PPAs immediately”. 

He said as far as the erstwhile SAD government was concerned, it had gone in for the lowest PPA arrangements with private thermal plants after following the policy laid down by the then UPA government led by Dr Manmohan Singh. 

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