Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha Sunil Jakhar demanded a white paper on the performance of power sector as a call attention motion on the concluding day of the budget session on Wednesday.
Terming the availability of cheap power in the state a ‘farce’ even after commissioning of two new privately-owned thermal plants in Rajpura and Talwandi Sabo, Jakhar said the Punjab government had to pay a whopping amount to the thermal plants as fixed charges even if it doesn’t purchase a single unit.
He said the power from these plants, which was touted to be cheaper, is purchased at a high rate of Rs 6.29 per unit. When the power-purchase agreement was being signed between the state government and the private companies, it was projected that the power would be available at Rs 2.36 per unit from Talwandi Sabo plant, Rs 2.89 per unit from the Rajpura plant and Rs 2.69 per unit from the Goindwal Sahib plant.
“We are suppose to pay Rs 1,800 crore every year to the Talwandi Sabo plant, Rs 1,200 crore to the Rajpura plant and Rs 660 crore to the Goindwal Sahib thermal plant. When these plants started coming up, it was projected that the power would be supplied at cheaper rates then the state-owned projects,” said Jakhar. The Goindwal Sahib plant is yet to be commissioned.
Jakhar alleged that the state-owned power projects had been shut to buy power from private thermal plants. He said the electricity duty in the state was 13% of the power tariff (65 paise per unit) which was among the highest in the country.
He added that the state government had failed to provide rail link to the Rajpura thermal plant due to which the coal charges brought to the plant by road were being imposed on the consumers.
Refuting charges, deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal, who is also the in charge of the power department, said the bidding process for thermal plants in the entire country was the same. “These plants are like state-owned plants as the entire power generated here is for the state. Besides, the privately-owned plants have better functioning than the state-owned ones,” Sukhbir informed the House.
On the cost of power in the state, the deputy CM said the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) decides the power tariff. Referring to the cost, he said the hike in power tariff last year was 2.74%, which was much less than the other states. He said Uttar Pradesh imposed a power tariff hike of 40%, Madhya Pradesh 14% and Delhi 28%. “We hope there will be negligible power tariff hike this time too,” added Sukhbir.
Pro-Khalistan posters dot Mansa: Kotli
Reacting to the pro-Khalistan posters being pasted at different places in Mansa as alleged by Congress MLA Gurkirat Singh Kotli, Sukhbir, who is also the in charge of the state home department, said there was no threat to the peace of the state.
Earlier, Kotli said things were repeating as they were in the late 1970s, so the government should curb the rise of separatists.
“People living in Mansa are feeling terrorised and there are apprehensions that these things are spreading fast,” said Kotli, demanding stern action against those behind the mischief. Sukhbir said he had asked the Mansa senior superintendent of police to take action against those behind pasting Khalistan posters.
Bills passed in assembly
Akal University Bill and Surya World University Bill for setting up these two private universities
Punjab Agriculture Produce Markets (amendment) Bill that provides for an officer to continue as the head of a market committee in the absence of its re-constitution/election
Punjab State Board of Technical Education and Industrial Training (amendment) Bill that has increased the age limit for the board’s chairman from 62 to 70 years.
IK Gujral Punjab Technical University (amendment) Bill that now has the provision for the appointment of the chief secretary as the university’s chairman
Punjab Regional and Town Planning and Development (amendment) Bill that facilitates developers in getting change of land use (CLU) certificate with ease
Punjab Ancient, Historical, Monuments, Archaeological Sites and Cultural Heritage Maintenance Board (amendment) Bill that will help the state raise easy loans for monuments’ care
Punjab Legislature Members’ Pension and Medical Facilities Regulation (amendment) Bill and Punjab Legislative Assembly Speaker’s and Deputy Speaker’s Salaries (amendment) Bill for raising certain allowances of legislators, as proposed in 2013 and notified by the council of ministers
Punjab Shops and Commercial Establishments (amendment) Bill for allowing women to work in the night shift