Punjab government withdraws power restrictions imposed on industry; AAP attacks Amarinder

The power crisis was triggered by a delayed monsoon and an unprecedented surge in demand from both agricultural and domestic sectors.
Punjab CM Amarinder Singh (Photo | PTI)
Punjab CM Amarinder Singh (Photo | PTI)

CHANDIGARH: Under fire from the industrial community over electricity regulatory measures, the Punjab government on Monday announced immediate withdrawal of all power restrictions that were imposed on industries across the state to deal with its shortage.

The orders for withdrawal of all power regulatory restrictions were issued by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh.

The power crisis was triggered by a delayed monsoon and an unprecedented surge in demand from both agricultural and domestic sectors.

Reviewing the power situation in the state after the resumption of generation at one of the three non-functional units at Talwandi Sabo Thermal plant, the CM directed the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) to ease all power regulatory restrictions on industrial consumers across the state with immediate effect.

The chief minister was informed that the plant at Talwandi Sabo had resumed 660 MW production, improving the power situation in the state.

The installed capacity of TSPL was 1,980 MW.

The decision on the complete withdrawal of the restrictions was taken by the chief minister soon after PSPCL announced a similar but partial withdrawal in districts falling in central and border zones, said a spokesperson from the Chief Minister's Office.

The PSPCL had allowed all industries, except those using continuous power, to operate at full capacity from Monday.

However, after the chief minister's intervention, all industries across the state, including those using continuous power round the clock (textile, chemicals, and spinning mills, etc), can now operate to full capacity.

Due to an unprecedented rise in power demand, the PSPCL had, as a temporary measure, ordered restrictions on industrial consumers of the state.

It was aimed at providing continuous power supply to domestic consumers and eight hours power supply to the agriculture sector for paddy transplantation.

Continuous process industries were allowed to operate at 50 per cent of their load, the spokesperson said.

The PSPCL had not imposed any restrictions on small and medium supply industrial consumers, rice shellers, cattle feed units, call centres, mushroom farms, food processing units and other essential Industries/services from the beginning, the spokesperson further said.

Punjab has 99,834 small power industrial consumers besides 30,176 medium power consumers, upon whom no usage restriction has been levied at all despite rising demand for power across the domestic sector.

To meet the shortage, only large supply consumers (5,071 in number) which use 1000 KVA sanctioned load had been asked to use 100 KVA for 12 hours a day.

Several industrial associations of Punjab on Saturday had held a protest in Ludhiana against the power regulatory measures imposed on the industry amid power crisis in the state.

Punjab had been reeling under an unprecedented power shortage with urban and rural areas facing frequent power cuts and voltage fluctuations, amid scorching heat.

Meanwhile, Punjab's main opposition party AAP on Monday accused the Congress government of not scrapping power purchase agreements signed during the previous SAD-BJP regime, saying the present dispensation has accepted "funds" from three power plant companies.

Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Punjab unit chief Bhagwant Mann alleged that the three private companies which had set up three thermal plants in the state had paid more than Rs 15 crore as "funds" to the Congress.

Mann in a statement here said that this was the reason why the Congress-led government was not scrapping the power purchase pacts.

The Congress government in Punjab has been under fire from the opposition for not being able to provide sufficient electricity to consumers, especially to paddy growers for sowing the crop.

Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had earlier said that his government would soon announce its legal strategy to counter "ill-conceived" power purchase agreements (PPAs) during the previous SAD-BJP regime.

He had also said that these PPAs, which were already under review, had put an "atrociously unnecessary" financial burden on the state.

The Congress before coming to power in 2017 had promised that it would renegotiate the existing PPAs to ensure low cost power.

Mann, who is a member of Parliament, also took a swipe at Congress MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu and asked him to tweet on the money allegedly accepted by the Congress from the power producing companies.

"I appeal to Navjot Sidhu to tweet on this issue as well as he has been tweeting every day on PPAs," he said.

Sidhu, who has been raising issues related to electricity supply through social media, had demanded that a white paper on power purchase pacts signed during the previous SAD-BJP regime be released to make the Badals "accountable" to people for these "corrupt agreements".

Parkash Singh Badal of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) was the chief minister then.

The cricketer-turned-politician, Sidhu, had said that the PPAs signed during the erstwhile SAD-BJP regime should be nullified through a law.

Meanwhile, the SAD urged the Punjab governor to get a corruption case involving alleged receipt of money from private plant managements by the Congress probed by the Central Bureau of Investigation.

SAD spokesman Daljit Singh Cheema alleged that it is a known fact that immediately after the PPAs were signed with the private thermal plants by the erstwhile SAD-led government, the Congress party had claimed they were wrong and even threatened to annul them.

"But at the same time, the Congress took funds from the same private companies whom its Punjab leaders, including Sunil Jakhar and Amarinder Singh, were accusing of indulging in malpractices," said Cheema.

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