Chandigarh: Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) president Sukhbir Singh Badal today demanded immediate withdrawal of the draconian power tariff hike, saying the Congress government had yet again deceived the people by increasing tariff for both domestic and industrial supply even as it was making promises of supplying cheap power to all categories including the industrial sector at Rs five per unit.
In a statement here, the former deputy CM said chief minister Capt Amarinder Singh had made an announcement one month after assuming power that all consumers would be supplied power at the rate of Rs 5 per unit. "However the government did not communicate this decision to the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC). Instead the State electricity utility – PSPCL asked for an increase in power tariff. The same has been approved by the PSERC today”.
Asking the Congress government to explain why it was lying and deceiving the people by saying one thing and doing the exact opposite, Badal said the Sate cabinet had approved power supply for industrial sector at Rs 5 per unit only one week back and now the entire industry had been burdened with an unbearable increase between 8.50 to 11.88 per cent. "What is tragic is that the power tariff increase is the most for small industrial units (11.88) percent. This will effectively kill the small industrial sector which is already passing through a challenging phase”, he added.
The SAD president said domestic consumers who had been promised cheaper power both before and after the assembly elections by the Congress had also been betrayed today. "Power tariff for domestic consumers has been hiked by an unprecedented 12 per cent today. Besides this the government has already implemented a municipal tax equivalent to two per cent of power bills in municipal areas. All this has hit and common man who has also been hit by other charges including increase in external development charges”. He also pointed out that if the electricity duty of 18 per cent was also taken into consideration, the power tariff hike would increase further across all categories.
Asking if anything was sacrosanct for the Congress government, including its own cabinet decisions, Jr. Badal asked it to tell Punjabis why it had failed to bring down all power tariffs to the promised Rs five per unit. "It is better you tell the people if you deliberately delayed the tariff order till the completion of the Gurdaspur by poll or the people themselves will confront you in the streets and ask why you have given them this ‘diwali’ gift”, he added.
The former Deputy CM said in stark contrast the SAD-BJP government did not raise power tariff for two consecutive years in 2015-16 and 2016-17. He said in fact the government slashed the energy rates for industrial users to promote growth in 2016. Small scale industry consumption rates were slashed by 38 paisa per unit, medium scale by 36 paisa per unit and large scale by 11 paisa per unit. "Besides this peak load hour restrictions were also removed”, he added.
Telling the government that it could no longer deceive Punjabis with new statements every day, Badal said "now you have been exposed. It is better you mend your ways and fulfill your solemn commitments or face the anger of Punjabis who will not forgive you for these blatant acts of betrayal”, he added.