Punjab Government's free power scheme bleeds PSPCL : The Tribune India

Punjab Government's free power scheme bleeds PSPCL

PSPCL losses touch Rs 1,880 cr, has raised Rs 2,300-cr loan this year; addl meters in demand

Punjab Government's free power scheme bleeds PSPCL


Tribune News Service

Aman Sood

Patiala, December 6

The Punjab Government’s populist free power scheme, leading to “zero bills” for a majority of the domestic consumers, is burning a hole in the pocket of the cash-strapped Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), which has already raised a loan of Rs 2,300 crore this year.

87% got zero bills in November

  • As many as 87 per cent of the total 74 lakh domestic consumers in Punjab got ‘zero bills’ in Nov
  • Compared to 2.20 lakh new domestic connections released till Sept in 2021, this year, 2.94 lakh were released during this period
  • Sources say eyeing zero bill, many consumers are opting for more than one connection
  • The state has told the PSPCL that it will pay Rs 15,845 cr as ‘power subsidy’ for the current year; the subsidy, however, is likely to cross Rs 18,000 crore

The PSPCL is at present suffering a loss of over Rs 1,880 crore in contrast to a profit of Rs 1,069 crore it generated in March 2022.

Data shows that as compared to 2.20 lakh new domestic connections released till September in 2021, this year, 2.94 were released during this period with many consumers reportedly going in for more than one connection. “A majority are eyeing the zero bill scheme,” claimed a top PSPCL functionary.

The power subsidy figure is likely to swell to around Rs 18,000 crore this fiscal as against the budgetary provision of Rs 15,845 crore. “Around 87 per cent of the total 74 lakh domestic consumers in Punjab got ‘zero bills’ in November. As a result, the domestic subsidy alone has crossed the Rs 3,000-crore mark as compared to Rs 1,100 crore last year,” said a PSPCL insider.

All-India Power Engineers Federation spokesman VK Gupta said, “The Punjab Government already has a pending subsidy bill of Rs 9,020 crore, which is likely to see an addition of Rs 3,000 crore this fiscal.”

Gupta said, “This means that at the end of this fiscal, the government liability will reach Rs 12,000 crore towards the PSPCL and more loans will be needed to run the corporation.”

Adding to the PSPCL woes are the Central Government rules that “restrict power purchase and sale if discoms fail to clear the dues on time”.

“We have been regularly asking the state government not to burden the PSPCL for its appeasement politics as it is increasing the debt of the PSPCL,” said PSEB Engineers Association general secretary Ajaypal Singh Atwal.

#pspcl

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