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Punjab govt to review power purchase agreements with private players

Statesman News Service | Chandigarh |

The Amarinder Singh government will review the power purchase agreements (PPA) between the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) and private players involved in electricity generation in the state.

Allaying the fear of PSPCL employees regarding dominance of private players in the power sector due to closure of 880 Mega Watt (MW) thermal units in Bathinda and Ropar, power minister GS Kangar on Friday said a joint committee of representatives of PSPCL, Punjab State Transmission Corporation Limited and employees associations would be formed to re-examine the existing PPAs.

In the run-up to the elections, the Congress had accused the PSPCL of extending undue benefits to the tune of Rs 7,500 crore to private players, allowing them to raise their variable costs arbitrarily, thus making power expensive for the consumers.

Under fire over electricity tariff hike in October 2017, the ruling party Congress had put the blame on the previous 10-year rule of SAD-BJP coalition for putting the power sector into “mess”.

It had also claimed that the PPAs signed by the power utility PSPCL with the private companies during SAD-BJP regime for the purchase of energy at a “higher” rate was one of the prime reasons behind the current power tariff hike. Power regulator PSERC had announced an average hike of 9.33 per cent in power tariff across all the sectors in October, 2017.

Meanwhile, giving a hearing to the delegations of Joint Employees Forum and Bilji Mulazam Ekta Manch, Kangar said the state government has approved a Super Critical Thermal Plant for Ropar which will have five units of 800 MW generation capacity each.

Besides, a 60 MW Biomass Plant and a 100 MW Solar Plant are also coming up soon. “So the closure of existing units by no means amount to dominance of private sector; it is just a switchover from the existing technology to the cheaper, greener, state -of -art technology,” he said.

The minister also promised favourable solution to the 23 year promotional scale and the pay band issues and advised the chairman and managing director (CMD) PSPCL to look into the issue in the forthcoming meeting of the Board of Directors (BoD). He informed that over 600 employees of various cadres have been promoted and about 400 others will be promoted soon.

Terming the death of short term contractual employees working on live wires as unfortunate, the director directed the CMD to review the compensation criterion for such cases and workout a reasonable reimbursement/job option for the dependants of such employees.