Punjab govt continues to underpay PSPCL for free farm power, arrears cross Rs 3,500 crore | punjab | Hindustan Times
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Punjab govt continues to underpay PSPCL for free farm power, arrears cross Rs 3,500 crore

Shortfall piling: What the Punjab govt owes and pays the PSPC for free power supply given to farmers

punjab Updated: Oct 10, 2017 11:11 IST
Vishal Rambani
In the current fiscal, the government has so far paid Rs 2,807.48 crore to the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), running short by Rs 1,164 crore if calculated by the previous year’s tariff.
In the current fiscal, the government has so far paid Rs 2,807.48 crore to the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), running short by Rs 1,164 crore if calculated by the previous year’s tariff.(HT File )

Facing trouble even in paying salaries, the government of Punjab continues to find it tough to pay subsidy to the state power corporation for free electricity supply to the farming Sector. Even after the Congress wrested power from the SAD-BJP alliance after 10 years last March, the subsidy arrears have crossed Rs 3,500 crore. Clubbed with Rs 3,971 crore for the remaining six months, the figure gets close to Rs 7,500 crore, which the government has to clear before the end of the current finical year to continue free power for the next fiscal.

In the current fiscal, the government has so far paid Rs 2,807.48 crore to the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), running short by Rs 1,164 crore if calculated by the previous year’s tariff. With the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) yet to decide the tariff for the current fiscal, this amount can soar further. In fact, the regulatory commission has said that the subsidy should be paid monthly in advance.

The arrears, as is apparent, go back and beyond the current regime. “Last fiscal, against a subsidy of Rs 7,943 crore, the government paid Rs 5,600 crore, which created a shortfall of Rs 2,342 crore. Add to this the shortfall of Rs 1,164 crore for the first six months of 2017-18, and the figure reaches Rs 3,506 crore,” explained a PSPCL officer on the condition of anonymity.

While the tariff order for the ongoing financial year 2017-18 has not been issued by the PSERC, it has allowed the subsidy to continue subject to the condition that the government pays to the PSPCL.

The regulatory commission has fixed October 26 as the next date of hearing on Padamjit’s petition, on which the PSPCL and the government have to file replies.

Retired power engineer Padamjit Singh said he has challenged the non-payment before the PSERC. “For continuation of the 2016-17 tariff to 2017-18, the slate of subsidy for the last fiscal should be made clean. That means the government must clear the shortfall of Rs 2342 crore. However, instead of paying this amount, the government has paid Rs 1,164 crore less in this fiscal too. This will destabilise the power corporation, and ultimately the employees and consumers will suffer,” he argued.

Going further, he said, “I will present a case that the government should clear the entire arrears of Rs 3,506 crore along with the Rs 3,971 crore for the last six months. Overall, the PSPCL has to receive Rs 7,477 crore by March next. That means Rs 1,240 crore a month.”

The regulatory commission has fixed October 26 as the next date of hearing on Padamjit’s petition, on which the PSPCL and the government have to file replies.