White paper on PPAs after contempt case against PSPCL gets over in SC

Officials say facts and chain of events stated in the document may have a bearing on the case related to coal washing charges and weaken PSPCL’s stand
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Published on Mar 05, 2020 09:44 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Chandigarh | By, Chandigarh

The Punjab government will bring out a white paper on power purchase agreements (PPAs) signed with private thermal plants during the Akali-BJP regime, only after the contempt case related to coal washing charges against the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) in the Supreme Court gets over.

The hearing in the case is listed for March 16.

An official in the chief minister’s office (CMO), seeking anonymity, said the facts and chain of events stated in the white paper may have a bearing on the case in the apex court and may further weaken PSPCL’s stand.

“The submission of white paper may be delayed further if hearing in the case is adjourned beyond March 16,” he said, adding that once the document is ready with supporting documents, letters and annexures, it will be circulated to all MLAs in the state.

On Tuesday, chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh announced in the state assembly that the draft of the white paper is ready but it needs more work. He carried the draft inside the legislative assembly, but details were not revealed to anyone.

Officials, familiar with the contents of the document, revealed that the 80-page draft has taken no names; it talks about chain of events before and after the signing of PPAs, cases in different courts and tribunals, and figures relating to the rise in power demand and tariff.

‘WILL NOT FIX ANYONE’S

RESPONSIBILITY’

Meanwhile, officials in the CMO made it clear that the paper would not fix anyone’s responsibility or give a report, but will “lay bare the facts with evidence, leaving it to the decision of the people”.

However, Congress party MLA Pargat Singh said, “It is for the government to fix responsibility. I think there is no use of a white paper when we are not fixing anyone’s responsibility. It shows that the government is not competent to protect the interests of the tax payers and power consumers.”

Before the Vidhan Sabha session in January, SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal alleged that private power thermal plants were given an undue benefit of 1,100 crore by the Congress government on account of coal washing charges and it of not pursuing the case properly.

During the January session, Amarinder announced that the government will issue a white paper to lay bare the facts about signing of PPAs.

It was revealed that around 200 PPAs were signed during the Akali-BJP regime, which includes at least 160 agreements for power purchase using renewable fuel.

The Congress government’s white paper mainly focuses on PPAs pertaining to Rajpura and Talwandi Sabo plants.

PPAs were signed for 1980MW Talwandi Sabo plant on September 1, 2008 when YS Ratra was chairman of the erstwhile Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) and for 1,400 MW plant in Rajpura (January 18, 2010) when HS Brar was head of the PSEB.

Before signing of the PPAs, two special purpose vehicles – Nabha Power Limited for Rajpura plant and Talwadi Sabo Power Limited for Talwandi Sabo plant – were set up.

The PSEB was bifurcated into PSPCL and PSTCL on April 16, 2010.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Gurpreet Singh Nibber is a special correspondent with the Punjab bureau. He covers agriculture, power sector, Sikh religious affairs and the Punjabi diaspora.

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