Chandigarh, October 31 : – Punjab Congress president Sunil Jakhar has demanded a categorical statement from Sukhbir Singh Badal on whether or not he had agreed to the power tariff hike under the UDAY scheme, and has sought an unequivocal apology from the Akali leader to the people of the state for the same. Instead of trying to cover up his own shameful role in the matter, Sukhbir should admit that he had personally agreed to the 5% hike in power tariff for 2016-17 and 9% increase for 2017-18 while signing the Uday tripartite MoU in March 2016 in the presence of then Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal, said Jakhar, president of Punjab Pradesh Congress Committee (PPCC) and MP from Gurdaspur.Rather than criticising the Congress Government he should apologize to the people of Punjab for this steep hike, said Jakhar, charging Sukhbir with misleading the people on the issue by claiming to have signed the MoU as per guidelines issued by the then UPA government at the Centre. Referring to the Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) signed during the Akali-BJP rule with various private thermals, Jakhar further said that Sukhbir had failed to explain the huge difference in fixed charges to be paid to private firms in case of thermal plants installed during his government’s rule in Punjab and those set up under the UPA government. For example, the fixed rate for Talwandi was Rs 1.35 per unit and Rajpura @ Rs 1.50 per unit whereas the fixed charges for the thermal projects contracted by the UPA government under the same guidelines were significantly less i.e. Mundra @ Paisa 90 per unit and Sasan@ Paisa 17 per unit only.If the state was following the same guidelines as issued by the UPA government, as Sukhbir is claiming, then why was the power purchase cost from thermals at Talwandi was @ Rs 5.40 Per unit, Goindwal @ Rs 8.70 Per Unit and Rajpura Thermal @ Rs 3.80 per unit as against Sasan is @ Rs. 1.32 per unit and Munrda @ Rs 2.20 per unit, Jakhar asked. The fact, said Jakhar, was that the difference lay in the `neeyat’ (intentions) of Sukhbir and Dr Manmohan Singh and the Akali leader, after announcing his decision to make Punjab power surplus, had gone ahead to collude with private players to install thermal plants in Punjab at higher rates of power.What is more, the Akali-BJP government in Punjab had also planned to set up thermals in Gobindpura, Gidderbaha and Kotshamir, Jakhar pointed out, adding that had they succeeded then even God could not have saved Punjabis from bankruptcy. Jakhar also questioned the hurried manner in which Sukhbir signed PPAs immediately after the SAD-BJP government took over the state’s reins on the pretext of making Punjab power surplus.Jakhar also lashed out at Sukhbir for evading answering questions on the massive power tariff hikes effected during the SAD-BJP rule in Punjab. Did or did not the state witness 12.42% hike in 2009-10, 7.58% in 2010-11, 9.19% in 2011-12, 12.08% in 2012-13 and 9.06% in 2013-14, the PPCC chief asked the SAD president, seeking clear answers to the questions raised by the Congress on the issue of power tariff hike.Jakhar further pointed out that Sukhbir had also failed to explain why costly imported coal was purchased from Adanis and why mining of coal from Pachhwara coal mine allocated to Punjab in 2015 was not started. The investment of Rs 30000 Crs through the private thermals which Sukhbir is talking is like “Bhath pia sona jehra kanna nu khave,,” Jakhar concluded, taking a sharp dig at the former deputy chief minister.
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