In a shocker to Punjab, the Union power ministry has reduced its grant to Rs 252 crore from Rs 980 crore promised under Deendayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana, a plan to light up every village home.
In July, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi launched this rural electrification programme, the power ministry had proposed projects to separate the feeders and augment the service line to rural areas. Deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal announced several times that Punjab would get Rs 980 crore, 60% as central grant, 10% as state-government share, and the rest as soft loan from the Union government. The state now has lost Rs 500 crore worth of help from the Centre.
Sources now claim that the state government got excited over what was only in-principle approval to the Punjab project, and paid the price for its best performance in augmenting the power supply and metering system.
The scheme focuses on separating the rural-household and agricultural feeders and strengthening the sub-transmission and distribution infrastructure, including metering at all levels in rural areas. The objective is to reduce peak load and improve billed energy based on metered consumption. As Punjab is one of first states to have completed this work, the Centre has cut down on all costs that the state has claimed. Decided in October-end, it was conveyed to the state only recently.
Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) is upset by the decision. “It seems the central government has punished us for performing well. They cut our grants, saying we have initiated these measures already. Some projects are in the middle of execution and we do need money,” said PSPCL chariman and managing director KD Chaudhri, adding that the PSPCL would ask the ministry through the state government “to not punish Punjab for bringing reform and bearing all cost”.