Chandigarh:  Amid farmers’ agitation over statewide electricity outages, opposition Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) President Sukhbir Badal on Thursday said Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh had practically reneged on the free power facility extended to farmers by refusing to provide eight-hour uninterrupted supply during the peak paddy season.

Also, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) announced to ‘gherao’ the Chief Minister’s farmhouse on July 3.

“After betraying farmers by refusing to implement a complete farm loan waiver, the Chief Minister has now effectively made the free power facility redundant in Punjab, ” alleged Sukhbir Badal.

“Farmers need power the most during the paddy season. Instead of the committed eight hours uninterrupted power supply they are being given three to four hours supply forcing them to spend thousands of rupees on diesel generators to save their paddy crop. All this is being done deliberately as part of a conspiracy to avoid paying subsidy to the state electricity utility for free power given to farmers in order to keep the subsidy bill down.”

Stating that this anti-farmer policy would play havoc with the farm economy, Badal said “many farmers are being forced to plough their paddy fields. Thousands have not completed sowing of paddy due to lack of power.”

Asserting the need to wake up the Chief Minister from his slumber, Badal said SAD cadre would hold protests outside state-owned Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd (PSPCL) offices on Friday to demand restoration of power supply for both the agricultural and domestic sector in Punjab.

He also condemned the state Congress government for severe cuts imposed on the domestic farm sector in Punjab, saying these could have been easily averted with well planned power purchase agreements (PPAs).

He said the situation was such that the government was even punishing the industrial sector for its deliberate failure to augment power supply during the peak load months.

PSPCL on Thursday announced a two-day off for industrial consumers, barring essential service providers, with immediate effect. It urged government and public sector offices to use electricity judiciously and switch off ACs till July 3.

“Due to prolonged dry spells, paddy transplantation and power shortage owing to the failure of one unit of the Talwandi Sabo thermal plant, the PSPCL is facing problem in meeting the power demand of more than 14, 500 plus MW, ” said the power utility.

AAP MLA and Youth Wing state president Gurmeet Singh Meet Hayer told the media here that the main cause for the high cost and shortage of power was the wrong power purchase agreements made by the Badal government with the private thermal plants and the non-cancellation of the agreements by the present Congress government.

“Like the Badals, the Captain (present) government is also taking bribes from the power companies, ” he alleged.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *