Free power promise mere fantasy if PPAs not annulled, says Sidhu
As Punjab chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh reached Delhi to meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi to discuss the crisis in the party’s state unit, former minister Navjot Singh Sidhu on Tuesday mounted fresh pressure on the state government to annul the power purchase agreements with independent power producers in the state.
In a series of tweets, Sidhu pressed for the annulment of these PPAs through a new legislation in the assembly, stating that the free power promise is a mere fantasy till this is done. “Hollow promises of free power have no meaning until PPAs are annulled through a new legislation in Punjab Vidhan Sabha... 300 units of free power is merely a fantasy, until the faulty clauses in PPAs are keeping Punjab bonded (sic),” he tweeted, reiterating the fix suggested by him.
Sukhbir defends PPAs signed during SAD-BJP rule
His latest tweets came a day after Shiromani Akali Dal chief Sukhbir Singh Badal stoutly defended the PPAs signed during the previous Akali-BJP regime, rebutting the objections related to fixed charges and costly power raised by the Congress leaders. He even dared the government to cancel the PPAs and register an FIR if any wrong was committed but make good the shortfall at cheaper rates.
Sidhu, Rajya Sabha member Partap Singh Bajwa and some other detractors of Amarinder in the ruling Congress have been demanding cancellation or renegotiation of PPAs without offering a strategy for bridging the supply-demand gap if the state government accepts their demand. The renegotiation of PPAs with independent power producers is a part of the 18-point agenda given by the Congress high command, based on the feedback from party leaders, to Amarinder for implementation before the assembly elections early next year.
PPAs designed to pay fixed charges at peak demand
Hitting out at Sukhbir Singh Badal, Sidhu, in his tweets, alleged that these PPAs are just another example of the Badal family’s corruption, designed to give corrupt benefits to them (Badals) without any thought for welfare of Punjabis. “PPAs bind Punjab to pay fixed charges for 100% production, whereas other states pay no more than 80%. If these fixed charges being paid to private power plants under PPAs were not paid, it would directly and immediately decrease cost of power in Punjab by ₹1.20 per unit,” he tweeted.
Claiming that PPAs are based on a wrong calculation of power demand in the state, he said that peak demand of 13,000-14,000 mega watt (MW) is only for four months, whereas non-peak power demand falls down to 5,000-6,000 MW, but PPAs have been designed to pay fixed charges at the peak demand.
“Even more alarming! There is no provision for mandatory supply of power from these private power plants during the peak season under the PPAs... Thus, they have shut down two power plants in this paddy-sowing season without repairing them and Punjab has to buy additional power (sic),” he posted. He said that private plants keep finding loopholes to file litigation that has cost Punjab ₹25,000 crore already.
On Monday, Sidhu demanded a white paper on PPAs, stating that he had been seeking this since 2017. “Bureaucratic control of the department relegates people-elected minister to mere showpieces,” he said.