New Delhi, April 20 (Punjabkhabar Bureau): Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh on Thursday sought Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s support in allowing the state government to sell its surplus power to Pakistan or Nepal in the economic interest of the cash-crunched state.
Pointing to the 1000 MW surplus power availability in Punjab after meeting its internal demand, the Chief Minister said sale of power to neighbouring Pakistan, or Nepal as the case may be, would save the citizens of the state from the burden of any extra taxes, and also save the electricity consumers from the extra burden of fixed cost of power generating units.
Since Punjab shares its border with Pakistan and its Goindwal Sahib thermal power plant is situated close to the international border, it would not be difficult for the state to supply power to Pakistan on continuous basis, the Chief Minister noted, according to his media advisor Raveen Thukral.
The power offer to Pakistan comes at a time when Islamabad has already announced that the neighbouring state will become power surplus by mid-2018. A number of power projects were being installed in Pakistan with the help of Chinese firms.
Though the Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd has, in the recent past, offered supply of power in tender enquiries floated for the purpose, it has not been successful, Amarinder said, while urging the Prime Minister to advise the Union Ministry of Power to favourably consider the state government’s proposal.
Referring to the plight of the state’s farmers who were suffering from declining real farm incomes due to agricultural stagnation, the Chief Minister stressed the need for diversification of farming away for paddy. Though high yielding maize hybrids, coupled with increase in area under maize cultivation, holds great promise, the same is not viable for farmers in the absence of assured procurement at MSP, said Amarinder, seeking financial support from the Centre for farmers compelled to sell their maize produce at a lower price. His government, said the Chief Minister, was willing to work with any agency designated by the Centre for this purpose to facilitate the desired shift in cultivation.
The Chief Minister also batted for compensation for farmers owning land beyond the International Border with Pakistan, as they face significant restrictions on the types of crops to be cultivated due to security reasons. This leads to significantly sub-optimal yields, necessitating higher compensation for the farmers than the current Rs 10,000 per acre per annum, said the Chief Minister, also calling upon the central government to bear the entire burden of the compensation instead of requiring the state government to share 50 per cent of it. He urged the Prime Minister to advise the Union Home Ministry to take immediate steps in this regard.
Amarinder also expressed concern over reports of the ongoing efforts to revive the package of concessions for the neighbouring States of Himachal Praesh and Jammu and Kashmir, and urged Modi’s intervention to ensure that no such special package is given to these states at the cost of Punjab’s economic development. If at all a special package is to be given then Punjab should also be treated at par by granting a similar package, he demanded, pointing out that the state also suffers a massive handicap in promoting industry due to the 554 km long international borders with Pakistan and the sub-mountainous region in the Arravali foothills.
The Chief Minister urged the Prime Minister to consider the state government’s requests in the larger public interest and keeping in view the development needs of Punjab.