Freebies will not let Punjab thrive: Union Power Minister RK Singh

By Dinkle Popli -- September 19, 2022 8:51 pm -- Updated:September 19, 2022 8:51 pm

Patiala, September 19: Amidst the much-hyped 300 units of free power doled out by the Aam Admi Party (AAP) government in Punjab, the union power minister RK Singh has questioned the veracity of the scheme claiming that ‘Power is not free in the country.” Singh, who was in Patiala  to interact with the representatives of the local industry and understand various issues being faced by them, said eight states of the country were caught in the vicious debt traps and Punjab was one of them. “Punjab is taking new loans to pay old loans and for how long will their continue, I don’t know,” he said.

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Expressing his concerns over the free power scheme introduced by the AAP government in Punjab, the union power minister categorically stated that power is not free and someone has to pay for coal, employees' salaries and repayment of loans taken for setting up the power infrastructure. “No MLA is going to pay for the free power from his pocket. It is the taxes that are paid by the people which are being used to give free power,” he said, adding that the state should promote a direct bank transfer scheme to prevent wasteful usage of power in the agriculture sector. The minister said that such wrong policies can push Punjab into a bleak future as its economy was already in the doldrums.

Calling upon the people to ask questions from the power that be, he said, “As per documents available in the public domain, Punjab’s annual income is 81000 crore, while its fixed expenditures on salaries, pensions and loan repayments are 85000 crores. Over and above, the government has announced freebies.

This is not going to turn out well for the people of the state as APP is burdening the state with loans.” Expressing concerns that industry in certain clusters of the state with mixed feeders was getting power only for 3 hours a day, the minister said the union government has paid a huge amount of money to Punjab to upgrade its transmission system. “After going back, I am going to seek an explanation from Punjab as to where this amount has been spent,” adding that, “Leaders come into politics to make money and are not concerned about the state’s fiscal health.” On the issue of the Electricity (Amendment) Bill, the minister said the matter has been referred to the standing committee which will speak to all stakeholders before finalising the bill.

On the issue of reduced representation of Punjab in the BBMB, the minister said it was as per the orders of the court that an equal opportunity was being given to officers from Punjab, Haryana Himachal Pradesh and Rajasthan to complete for the top posts of the management board.

This, he said, has brought transparency to the system. Laying to rest speculations about the “One Nation, One Tariff” plan being mulled by the union government, the minister said that the scheme is likely to be introduced for the new generation plants which might be brought under a single pool to decide the power tariffs.

He said the disconnection of 13 non-paying states from the power exchange has brought financial disciple into the state.

Non-payment of 1.13 lakh crore of dues of the states had crippled the entire power economy of the country and this needed to be checked. He said today India was a power surplus state with a single largest central gird in the entire world. He said if any state is facing a power shortage, it is either because of non-payment of dues or due to a poor transmission system, as was the case with Punjab till recently.

Huge Embarrassment for country Referring to the incident in which Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann was asked to deplane at Frankfurt Airport, as he was unfit to board the plane, the union minister in Patiala said, “Today, our heads hang in shame as a CM was asked to deplane by a private airline on foreign land. I as an Indian feel ashamed,” he said.

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-Reported by Gagandeep Ahuja for PTC News



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