CHANDIGARH: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Punjab senior leader and MLA Aman Arora while coming down heavily on the Congress government regarding power agreements, raised many pivotal questions which were neither answered by the previous Captain government nor present Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi.
He said that the Charanjit Singh Channi-led state government is also trying to mislead the people of Punjab. Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters here on Tuesday, MLA Aman Arora said that the Congress government is also cheating Punjab on power purchase agreements like the Akali-BJP government did.
He said that on the basis of power purchase agreements, the ‘White Collar Mafia’ has remained unchanged for five and a half years and is continuously working freely under the nose of Chief Minister Charanjit Singh Channi. Though this issue was raised by the AAP in the Punjab Assembly, the Congress government ran away from it and chose to remain silent. Aman Arora said that the three private thermal power plants are defrauding Punjab of thousands of crore of rupees every year. Captain Amarinder Singh had also brought white paper, but then swept it under the carpet. The Akali-BJP and Congress are birds of the same feather and ‘White Mafia’ is fearlessly running in Punjab.
Aman Arora, while showing the account of the last ten years of the Akali-BJP and the present Congress government through the White Paper, said that the Punjab government is only trying to throw dust in the eyes of the people in view of the elections. He said that Manpreet Singh Badal had brought White Paper to the Channi government regarding power purchase agreements but this white booklet is nothing more than a pack of lies. The original white paper is 17 pages, but apart from describing what happened during the Akali government, the misdeeds of these five and a half years during the Congress government in 2006 and after that are still hidden. Due to this, the number of these white papers was reduced to only nine and Manpreet Singh Badal brought them.
Manpreet Singh Badal started talks from the year 2007 but these power purchase agreements were approved on March 24, 2006, in the tenure of Captain Amarinder Singh government. Approval was received from Banawali and Rajpura units to set up one thousand units each, that is, a total of 2000 units. But about 14 days before the election, the 2000 MW unit of PSPCL was increased to 2400 MW on January 20, 2017, during Captain Amarinder Singh’s government. The Akali-BJP government changed the bill Home Operate and Transfer (BOOT) to BOO. Because according to BOOT the unit was to be of Punjab after 25 years. But the government changed it to Build on Operate (BOO) on January 20, 2007. The Congress government is as much a partner in destroying Punjab as the Akali-BJP government.
On October 10, 2007, Manpreet Badal was the Finance Minister in the Akali-BJP government’s cabinet and Parkash Singh Badal was the Chief Minister. At that time, the government had argued that BOO was wrongly marked instead of BOOT. Firstly in Captain Amarinder’s government and then Prakash Badal Manpreet Singh Badal was the common link between them and who is now also a cabinet minister in the Channi government too. About 2, 200 acres of land was also bought and given by the Punjab Government. Manpreet Badal and the Punjab Government agreed that the Central Sector has been given Rs. 1482 crore to the government and the NPAs to the three private thermal power plants are GBK Rs. 3620 crore in just these four years that is more than Rs. 5000 crore has been given to these thermal power plants as fixed charges.
The Punjab government did not keep any safeguard at the time of signing the power agreement. If paddy is to be sown in summer then 14000 MW is required and in winter 6000 MW and then 3000 MW is required. But ignoring this, power purchase agreements were signed. Whereas Section-9 and Section-11 were not taken care of like Gujarat Thermal Power Plant. Under section 9, the state government should write that in which months, electricity is not needed, then the thermal plant can sell electricity anywhere outside and the government can avoid fixed charges. Punjab needs 14000 MW of power only for 4-5 months, if it was given in writing in time, it could have been avoided but the Congress government did not do anything like this. According to Section 11, 20 percent power on the total production cost could have benefited but no talks were held with private thermal power plants.
Manpreet Badal has not recovered even one rupee out of Rs. 1000 crore of Talwandi and Rajpura due to liquidated damage charge, that is, delay in project implementation. Punjab will have to pay more than Rs 7600 crore due to the wrong power purchase agreement. Apart from this, PSPCL had to pay Rs 3400 crore as coal transportation charges. But the revision petition was not filed in any court in the last three and a half years. Instead of starting the Pachwara coal reserves, the Punjab government is buying low quality coal from private coal reserves at expensive rates. Due to this an additional burden of seven hundred crore rupees is falling on the heads of the people of Punjab. But not even a letter was written in five and a half years to start the Pachwara coal reserves. The same Apta company has filed a case of recovery of Rs 1652 crore on the Punjab government but the Congress government is sitting silently on this issue too.
The Congress government had claimed to keep the Bathinda thermal plant running but two units of Ropar, including the thermal plant built at a cost of Rs 737 crore, were also closed, while it could run till 2030-31. Five power purchase agreements were signed from thermal power plants in three years with Mundra (Tata) on April 22, 2007, which is 90 paise per unit; then on August 7, 2008, from Reliance 17 paise per unit and again in 2008-9 and 2010 with TSPL, GBL, NPL contracts ranging from 1.38 paise to 2.20 paise. The root of the problems of Punjab has been the Akali-BJP and Congress government and now the Congress government is engaged in rhetoric just for the sake of winning elections.
Aman Arora said that when the rates have to be fixed by PSRC only, then what will the Congress government do by bringing some law. He further said that the Punjab government had sent termination notices to four projects of Damodar Valley, but the highest electricity regulation body APTA asked the Punjab government who they are to order the termination of the project? He said that the basis for canceling the agreement cannot be made on the basis of expensive electricity rates. The Punjab government has made electricity cheaper by three rupees in the past, but it was not told from where and how they are going to save money. There was a debt of 20, 000 crores on the government in 2010-11, now the debt of 36 crore has been made. Like PSPCL, the Punjab government is trying to make Punjab bankrupt.