Chandigarh: Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Saturday said his government will soon announce a legal strategy to "counter the ill-conceived" power purchase agreements signed during the SAD-BJP rule which has put an "atrociously unnecessary" financial burden on the state.
A day earlier, Congress leader Navjot Singh Sidhu had demanded a law to nullify the power purchase agreements as Punjab reeled under an unprecedented power shortage.
After a meeting to review the power supply situation in the state, the chief minister said that of the 139 power purchase agreements (PPAs) signed during the SAD-BJP government, 17 were enough to cater to the state''s full electricity demand.
The remaining 122 PPAs for 1,314 MW of "expensive power were inexplicably signed, putting an unnecessary financial burden" on the state, he said in a statement.
Singh said that a carefully charted legal course of action was being formulated to save Punjab from further financial losses due to the "ill-conceived" PPAs signed by the Badals during the SAD-BJP rule.
The chief minister's statement came days after a three-member All India Congress Committee panel on resolving infighting in the state unit of the party had asked Singh to deliver on 18 pending poll promises, including action on PPAs.
Notably, the Congress, before coming to power in 2017, had promised that it would renegotiate the existing PPAs to ensure low-cost power.
Punjab has been reeling under an unprecedented power shortage with urban and rural areas facing long hours of load shedding amid scorching heat.
The Amarinder Singh-led government has been under fire from the opposition for not being able to provide sufficient electricity to consumers, especially to paddy growers for sowing their crop.
The state-owned power utility PSPCL had blamed failure of one unit of Talwandi Sabo power plant and prolonged dry spell for the power crisis in the state.
The chief minister appealed to the people to use electricity judiciously and cooperate with the government in overcoming the "temporary shortage" of power, adding that against the supply of 13,500 MW, the demand last week touched an unprecedented 16,000 MW.
Immediately, PSPCL started purchasing 7,400 MW of power from outside the state, he disclosed, adding that this was 1,000 MW more than what was purchased last year.
Had the quantum of purchase not been promptly enhanced, the state would have faced an additional deficit of 1,000 MW, further aggravating the crisis, the Punjab chief minister said.
Asserting that the present crisis was the result of the failure of one unit of the Talwandi Sabo Power Plant, generating 660 MW of power, Singh said PSPCL has issued a notice to the plant for imposing a heavy penalty.
The state government has, on its part, taken strong measures to address the power shortage, he said.
These steps included three weekly days of power off for the industry, including rolling mills and induction furnaces, from July 1 to 7. Only essential services and continuous process industries have been exempted from these regulations, Singh said.
Stressing on his government''s commitment to ensure that the situation is quickly eased, the chief minister said the power distribution system in Punjab has improved significantly over the past four years.
A spokesperson of the PSPCL said that following the measures taken by the state government, eight hours of power is being supplied to all agriculture consumers and there is no scheduled power cut on domestic, commercial, small and medium supply industrial consumers in the state.
The situation has improved considerably, he said. PTI CHS VSD NSD NSD