Freebies effect: PSPCL suffered Rs 2,000-crore loss in Punjab poll year | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Freebies effect: PSPCL suffered Rs 2,000-crore loss in Punjab poll year

This has been found in a provisional annual audit despite the fact that the corporation recorded its highest ever sale of electricity during the same period.

punjab Updated: May 18, 2017 08:58 IST
Vishal Rambani

The Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) incurred Rs 2,000 crore loss in the 2016-17 financial year, with the then Shiromani Akali Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (SAD-BJP) government going on a freebies spree providing free electricity to farmers in the run-up to the assembly elections.

This has been found in a provisional annual audit despite the fact that the corporation recorded its highest ever sale of electricity during the same period.

Made Rs 150 crore profit in 2014-15

After it posted Rs 150 crore profit in the 2014-15 financial year, the PSPCL has been slipping ever since due to freebies, not tightening the noose against those resorting to power theft in Akali strongholds and high cost of electricity purchased from private plants. 

The PSPCL during the tenure of then chief managing director (CMD) KD Chaudhry had claimed profits of Rs 260.5 crore, Rs 249.3 crore and Rs 165.9 crore in 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 financial years respectively.

Feedback sought to revive PSPCL

PSPCL CMD-cum-secretary A Venu Prasad has written to his staff from the director to junior engineers, seeking their suggesting for reviving the ailing corporation. 

He has sought suggestions on reduction of transmission losses, employee cost, improving meter reading, billing collection and reducing power purchase cost. 

“It has been seen that power consumption in the state has not increased considerably in the last few years. The average cost of power supply is also on higher side when compared to revenue realisation. As a result, the corporation incurred Rs 2,000 crore loss in the 2016-17 financial year,” Prasad said in the letter.

Gave tubewell connections, filled vacancies at Akalis’ bidding

Sources said the PSPCL at the bidding of the then ruling SAD filled vacancies, released tubewell connections and undertook several projects to upgrade its network in the Akali-dominated areas. It, however, failed to check power theft in Akali areas, a factor which alone may have contributed Rs 1,000 crore loss. 

Employee cost highest in India

Secondly, high employee cost also proved dear to PSPCL, with as many as 40,000 staff on its roll. The corporation spends Rs 4,500 crore on its staff every year, the highest in India.

“The real damage was done by freebies of the Akali government and eventually non-payment of subsidies. It is not just the last fiscal, but the PSPCL incurred Rs 1,500 crore loss a year before. The management didn’t react to the situation, creating a financial mess,” said an official. 

“Incurring losses is a challenge for PSPCL as it is committed to provide uninterrupted supply. It will be possible only if we manage our resources and finance efficiently,” A Venu Prasad said said.

He said that it is a provisional figure which may go down once the accounts are finalised.