A day after the engineers’ association of the Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) warned that the state would plunge into darkness if the power utility’s current financial crisis is not resolved immediately, Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), on Friday, said Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) Government had endangered the farm and industrial economy of Punjab by driving PSPCL to bankruptcy.
SAD president Sukhbir Singh Badal said the AAP Government was denying subsidy to the PSPCL and forcing it to take loans to cover underestimated expenditure of Rs 7,000 crore. He said the very existence of the PSPCL as an independent corporation was at stake with the control of day-to-day functioning being handed over to a Bangalore-based private company.
Terming these developments as extremely disturbing, Badal said the situation, if allowed to continue, would lead to a catastrophe.
“The mismanagement of PSPCL is leading to widespread cuts during the winter even as demand is low. Since the Corporation has not undertaken any exercise to cater to the increase in demand in summer, particularly during the paddy transplantation season, it could well endanger the paddy crop,” he said.
The SAD chief said Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann was allowing the PSPCL to go into a downward spiral as the government is denying subsidy for free power being supplied by the corporation to farmers.
He pointed out that the backlog in subsidy payments due to the Corporation are Rs 9,000 crore. “Besides, the government has underestimated expenditure on power subsidy by Rs 7,500 crore. This is the reason why PSPCL is being forced to take on periodic loans with the latest loan of Rs 500 Crore being taken recently,” he added.
Asserting that all this had taken a toll on the PSPCL, including its inability to even undertake routine repair and maintenance works, Badal said the governance has also been affected with a private Bangalore-based firm being given control over day to day functioning of the utility. This control has been given illegally in the same manner in which private consultants are being allowed to assess government files on the orders of AAP convener Arvind Kejriwal.
Asking the CM to take control of the situation and ensure that the power utility does not collapse, Badal said, “It is unfortunate that PSPCL, which had been ranked as a number one utility in the country during SAD government tenure, has been downgraded now.”
He also asked the CM to fill all vacancies in the corporation besides releasing funds for repair and maintenance works on an urgent basis.
The Punjab State Electricity Board Engineers Association, in a letter to CM on Thursday, cautioned that PSPCL is heading towards a man-made financial and power crisis. The power subsidy bill of the state government for the current financial year is expected to be around Rs 19,000 crore without taking into account the pending backlog Rs 9020 Crore, the association said.