Khangura to Sukhbir Badal: “Come clean on power” - 23/07/2009

Qila Raipur MLA Jassi Khangura today challenged Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Badal’s excuse that the supply of coal had declined due to policies of the Centre, resulting in chronic state-wide power shortages. Khangura instead referred to the comments of the PSEB recently, saying that in fact lack of supply was a matter of simple economics: “Who would supply a defaulting customer, with a poor payment record and a bad credit history? This alliance government alone is responsible for this mess.”

Khangura stated that the alliance government and Sukhbir Badal in particular had been remarkably inconsistent on the power issue.

At the 2007 assembly elections the Akali’s had promised surplus power within 3 years. On assuming power this timeline expanded to a surplus situation “within the term of this government”. Now, even Manpreet Badal, Finance Minister, observed in his recent Budget speech that Punjab will not be power surplus until end 2012 - by which time the current rulers will be long gone.

He also questioned the financial implications of attaining surplus power by stating “there is a direct correlation between the availability of power and the losses of the PSEB. In the absence of structural reforms to the power sector, this government needs to explain how these additional, massive losses will be funded.” Before adding that “Failure to provide a convincing explanation to date is confirmation that Sukhbir’s tall claims on power are no more than falsehoods designed to mislead the public.”

Khangura added “If this government does not have the resources to purchase requisite power today, where will it discover the funds to purchase power from the private sector power projects proposed to be set up in Punjab? How many of these projects will see the light of day?”

Underlying the need for a reality check, Khangura stressed “Sukhbir needs to appreciate the difference between hope and reality. Words alone do not deliver results.”

Khangura said that it is a typical trait of the Badals to shift the blame for all evils to the Centre, particularly when Congress governs there. “Let Mr Sukhbir Badal state what his government has done on the power front, except for writing a letter to the coal and power ministers, asking for more power and coal”.

He revealed that the Union Ministry of Coal had recently allocated coal blocks to Punjab, which, on account of its financial crisis, had to date not been able to find a single partner for extracting the coal.

Khangura also disclosed that the Union Ministry of Power had asked the government of Punjab to import five million tons of coal. PSEB was unable to do this due to lack of funds.

He finished by saying “Sukhbir Badal does not have the moral courage to admit that Punjab has no money to buy power from other states as his government has reduced the state to virtual bankruptcy.”

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