In a massive embarrassment for Congress MLA Navjot Singh Sidhu, sources reported on Saturday, that the Amritsar East MLA has not paid power bills for his Amritsar residence in the past eight months. As per his bill, accessed by Republic, Sidhu owes Rs 8,67,540 to the Punjab state power board. Sidhu had waxed on about 'saving power', advising the CM to cut down on power costs, tweeting several radical suggestions. Congress is witnessing massive revolt in Punjab as Sidhu and his supporters have lambasted the CM who has now been hauled in front of the High Command.
Reacting to Sidhu's unpaid bills, Power department's chief engineer Sakatar Singh Dhillon said, "We will take action against those who did not pay the bills. We do not know about this bill, officers of this division might know about this. No special relaxation was given to him. We'll investigate the issue".
On Friday, Sidhu lashed out at the Capt Amarinder Singh government for 8-hour power cuts in Punjab, explaining the trouble in Punjab's power model in a string of tweets. Sidhu, who has been criticising the incumbent CM continuously, has suggested that Solar & Biomass energy gas which remain untapped in Punjab. Both Akali Dal and AAP have taken to the streets, protesting the power cut.
Sidhu argued that Punjab purchased power at higher rates (Rs 4.54 per unit) compared to the national average (Rs 3.85 per unit) due to the government's over-dependence on three private thermal power plants which sell power at Rs 5-8 per unit. Lashing at the Badal govt for locking the Punjab govt in power purchase agreements, he claimed that the state govt owed Rs 65,000 crores in fixed charges to these power companies. While renegotiating with the companies is not an option, Sidhu claimed a 'way forward'.
Suggesting a radical policy shift, he claimed that the Punjab govt must bring a law capping power purchase costs to those on the National Power Exchange at any time, with a retrospective effect. Claiming that Punjab had untapped solar and biomass generation potential, he turned down AAP's offer of 'free power to all'. Pointing out that Punjab already gave Rs 9000 crores in power subsidies, he said that power must be managed better.
On Thursday, the Punjab government reduced timings of government offices and ordered cut down on power supply to high energy-consuming industries as the electricity demand in the state soared to over 14,000 MW a day. With power demand peaking to 14,142 MW against the supply of 12,842 MW, leaving a gap of 1,300 MW, the CM has appealed to all government offices to make judicious use of electricity - managing the use of ACs. The CM said farmers are losing precious paddy transplantation time due to power breakdowns and hence needs to prioritised for uninterrupted power supply. Punjab govt has decided to impose power regulatory measures on industrial consumers by imposing two-day weekly offs on the industry, including rolling mills, arc and induction furnaces with immediate effect.