10% of Punjab’s budget goes to subsidy for power
Even as the Punjab government was unable to pay power subsidy against free power to agriculture tubewells in the current year, it has taken an additional burden of Rs 1,440 crore for subsidised power at Rs 5 per unit to industry.punjab Updated: Mar 25, 2018 13:48 IST
In what comes as a shocker, the Punjab government’s entire allocation to power sector, Rs 12,950 crore, will be spent on supply of free electricity. What’s even more significant is that this forms 10% of the total budget expenditure of the state government of Rs 1,29,697 crore.
Of the power sector allocation, the expenditure for 2018-19 will be Rs 8,950 crore with arrears of Rs 4,000 crore carried over from the previous years.
Even as the government was unable to pay power subsidy against free power to agriculture tubewells in the current year, it has taken an additional burden of Rs 1,440 crore for subsidised power at Rs 5 per unit to industry. This was a major pre-poll promise of Captain Amarinder Singh and with its implementation getting delayed, industry representatives had raised a bogey of protest, forcing the government to bite the bullet, despite the acute fund crunch.The subsidy element also comprises Rs 1,254 for power supply to SC, BC, BPL, and domestic consumers. An official with the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) told HT on condition of anonymity that the pending subsidy due to them for the current year had crossed Rs 5,000 crore.
After all the elements of the subsidy are accounted for, the state government plans to strengthen power infrastructure, reduce line losses and bring transparency in billing procedure by using information technology tools.
The government proposes to install a super-critical thermal plant at Ropar, with five units each of 800 MW, improving the reliability and quality of power. The total installed capacity of the state is 13,182 MW which will rise to 13,660 MW by 2017-18. The peak demand anticipated for the year 2018-19 is 11,705 MW, which could, therefore, be met easily. So far, there’s no allocation of funds for the proposed project.
The construction of 16 new sub-stations is planned. Sub-stations with a load of more than 80% will be augmented or provided with additional transformers. It is envisaged that the capacity of 1,371 MVA will be added during the year. To reduce the load on existing 66 KV transmission lines and to improve the reliability of the sub-transmission network, the PSPCL will also construct 800-1,000 km of transmission lines at an estimated cost of Rs 450 crore.
It is proposed to spend Rs 900 crore for separation of AP feeders, including those in the Kandi area, and strengthening the distribution system in urban and rural areas.
Announcement for Bathinda plant draws opposition ire
The government announced that it was exploring the feasibility of setting up of a gas-based power plant and a 100 MW solar plant in a part of Bathinda thermal plant. The plant shutdown on January 1 and employees are still protesting against the decision. The area vacated is prime land in the heart of Bathinda city.
“Is he (Manpreet) a fool,” said former deputy CM Sukhbir Badal after the announcement. “The land where the finance minister plans to set up solar and gas based plants is prime property. The government should plan something worthwhile there,” he said.