Sunil Jakhar, Leader of the Opposition in the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, on Tuesday said the reduction in value-added tax (VAT) on the iron and steel industry, approved by the council of ministers on Monday, could not save the industry.
"Reasonable power tariff could save the industry, especially the steel sector, from migrating out of the state. The Punjab government should initiate immediate action to reduce power tariff as even non-power-surplus states have reduced electricity rates," Jakhar said.
He said arc furnaces in Punjab charged Rs 6.33 per unit as compared to Rs 5.3 in Haryana. Heavy industry consuming bulk supply in Punjab is charged Rs 6.29 per unit, while in Haryana the tariff is Rs 5.25. The arc furnaces make huge expenditure on power and a cut in tariff would help in their revival, Jakhar suggested.
"Congress-ruled states have reduced electricity rates, giving relief to the poor, the common man, traders and the industry, on the suggestion of party vice-president Rahul Gandhi. Now, the onus lies on the state government which prides itself on being a power-surplus state to cut tariff," he pointed out.
He demanded that electricity rates should be substantially reduced and brought on a par with Haryana.
He reiterated that he would raise this issue in the upcoming assembly session. The Congress leader said if no action was taken by the state government, the party would have no alternative but to begin an agitation. Cutting tariff would provide relief to the common man, traders and the industry, and the ongoing flight of the industry to other states can also be stopped," Jakhar said.