ZERO HOURCong MLA Pargat Singh questions govt over PPAs, police firing cases
Congress MLA Pargat Singh and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Wednesday demanded quick action on the power purchase agreements (PPAs) with private players in the state.
Pargat, who was the first to raise the issue during the zero hour, suggested a House Committee to find out how the contentious agreements were signed. He said governments were known to constitute committees and sub-committees or come up with white paper and then do nothing.
He said those during whose tenure the agreements were signed were now demanding an inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). “A House committee should be set up to find out in a time-bound manner who was involved in signing the power purchase pacts with private companies so that action could be taken. It should be asked to give its report in three weeks and tell us who did what,” the Congress MLA said. Referring to the Behbal Kalan police firing case, he said charges had not been framed even after five years. He urged speaker Rana KP Singh as the custodian of the House to find a way to ensure action in the matter.
Later, AAP member Aman Arora, while raking up the power pacts issue, took a dig at chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh saying he (CM) brought the white paper on PPAs to the House on Tuesday, but took it back with him without sharing its contents with the members. “We (AAP) have prepared our own white paper on the issue and given a way to reduce electricity rates by ₹3 to ₹4 per unit,” he said, seeking permission from the speaker to table it in the assembly. When the speaker refused permission, AAP members entered the well of the House, raising anti-government slogans. The speaker expunged their slogans from the proceedings. The protesting members then staged a symbolic walkout.
The state government has been under pressure from its own ministers and MLAs as well as the opposition AAP to scrap the “faulty PPAs”, which are being blamed for putting a colossal burden on Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) on account of fixed cost and coal washing charges and making power costlier in the state.
‘RECOVER ROOM RENT FROM CHIEF SECY, AG’
Raising the issue of status of lawmakers and reservation of rooms and house allotment for them, Congress MLA Barindermeet Singh Pahra said steps should be taken to ensure accountability of the state bureaucracy.
He said the chief secretary and advocate general (AG) had been given permanent rooms at Punjab Bhawan, but MLAs were being ignored. “The rent for these permanent rooms should be recovered from them,” he said even as several members of the ruling party and the opposition AAP thumped their desks to show their support.
The MLA also said that legislators should be allotted the vacant houses in Sector 39, Chandigarh, as it was a question of their dignity. Speaker Rana KP Singh said he had called the chief secretary on the room booking issue, but he had gone for a hearing in the Supreme Court.
Leader of opposition Harpal Singh Cheema raised the issue of alleged irregularities in purchase of interlocking tiles used in the construction of roads and lanes, saying the government was paying ₹13 for a tile that costs ₹5.