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Posted at: Jan 11, 2017, 1:23 AM; last updated: Jan 11, 2017, 3:03 PM (IST)

Tubewell bonanza for SAD bastions

Farm power policy quota increased just days prior to model code of conduct

Tribune News Service

Patiala, January 10

The all-important Akali constituencies of Majitha and Jalalabad have been the main beneficiaries of the Punjab Government's agriculture power (AP) tubewell policy, having been sanctioned 2,300 and 1,500 connections under the discretionary quota, respectively.

Whereas the PSPCL takes years to release a tubewell connection, the SAD-BJP government used the quota route to favour farmers in these two constituencies. As per the 2016-17 policy, of the total 1 lakh connections, only 10,000 (10%) are to be released under the general category and 50,000 (25,000 per year) under the chairman's quota.

Other Akali bastions to have been allotted a large number of connections are Talwandi Sabo (2,000), Bathinda-Rural (1,500), Mansa (1,000), Maur (900) and Nakodar (800). Interestingly, CM's son-in-law Adesh Partap Singh Kairon could mange only 250 connections for his Patti constituency.

On December 21, 2016, the chairman's quota was increased and a day prior to the model code of conduct (January 3, 2017), it was further increased by another 5,000 connections, say sources. “More than 3,000 connections were approved on January 4, after the poll code came into forced but these were shown in the back date (January 3),” revealed a senior PSPCL official. “In all, 60,000 connections, 35,000 during 2016-17 and 25,000 during 2015-16, have been allocated primarily on the recommendations of ministers, MLAs and halqa chiefs and party candidates," he added.

But KD Chaudhri, Chief Managing Director, PSPCL, insisted that no connection had been released after the poll code. "The Punjab Government ordered an increase in quota and all connections were released on written orders," he said.

Officials in the PSPCL say releasing 1.25 lakh tubewell connections would cost the government more than

Rs 550 crore since the power subsidy bill would swell. From Rs 4,778 crore in 2014-15 to Rs 5,484 crore in 2015-16, it is expected to rise to Rs 6,000 crore by next fiscal.

As of now, there are 12.76 lakh tubewell connections and almost 1.25 lakh more will be added after the release of new connections, raising the power demand in the farm sector by 12 to 15 per cent.


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