A day after Punjab government led by Amarinder Singh announced the curtailment of office timings due to power outage, former cabinet minister Navjot Singh Sidhu said the move was “not needed” and suggested ways to provide “round-the-clock power supply to the people of Punjab”.
Sidhu also took a subtle dig at AAP convenor Arvind Kejriwal’s poll promise of providing free electricity in the state, saying, “Punjab needs an original Punjab model, not a copied model.”
In a series of tweets, Sidhu, who recently met the Gandhis to discuss his future role in the party, said there was no need for power cuts in Punjab “or for the Chief Minister to regulate office timings or AC use of the Common People … If we Act in the right direction”.
“Punjab is buying power at an average cost of Rs. 4.54 per unit, the national average is Rs. 3.85 per unit and Chandigarh is paying Rs. 3.44 per unit. Punjab’s over-dependence on 3 Private Thermal Plants at Rs. 5-8 per unit makes Punjab pay more than other states,’’ he tweeted.
Touching upon the Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) Sidhu said that the Badal government signed PPAs with three private thermal plants in Punjab. “Till 2020, Punjab has already paid Rs 5,400 crore due to faulty clauses in these Agreements and is expected to pay Rs 65,000 crore of Punjab People’s Money just as fixed charges,’’ he alleged.
Giving suggestions to overcome power crisis, he tweeted, “Punjab can purchase power from National Grid at much cheaper rates, but these Badal-signed PPAs are acting against Punjab’s public interest. Punjab may not be able to re-negotiate these PPAs due to them having legal protection from Hon’ble Courts, But there is a way forward,” he said.
“Punjab Vidhan Sabha can bring in New Legislation with retrospective effect to Cap power purchase costs to prices available on the national power exchange at any given time … Thus, by amending the law, these agreements will become null & void, saving people of Punjab’s money,’’ the Congress leader added.
He also took potshots at Kejriwal’s Delhi model. “Punjab already gives 9,000 crore power subsidy but Delhi gives only 1,699 crore as power subsidy. If Punjab copies Delhi Model, we will get merely 1600-2000 crore as subsidy. To better serve the People of Punjab - Punjab needs an Orignal Punjab Model, not a copied model,’’ he said in another tweet.
“The Money spent on giving unreasonable and exuberant profits to Private Thermal Plants should be utilised for welfare of People i.e Giving Power Subsidy for Free Power for Domestic use (Upto 300 Units), 24 hours supply & to invest in Education & Healthcare! (Sic)’’ he said.