Ec allows free power to farm sector, poo
EC ALLOWS FREE POWER TO FARM SECTOR, POOR
Jalandhar April 1:
The Election Commission (EC) has allowed continuation of subsidy to the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) for supply of free power to farm sector and poor sections of society.
The Punjab government had sought the permission of the EC in this respect. The commission has also allowed the charging of current tariff from various sections of society till new tariff order by the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Authority. The ECís permission was required as free power is considered a concession by the government to certain sections of society.
The Punjab government gives subsidy of Rs 2,602 crore per annum to the PSEB for supply of free power to farm sector and poor sections of society. Of it, Rs 2,470 crore alone is given for free electricity to farm sector in the state. On the basis of the tariff order of the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Authority for 2008-09, the PSEB was allowed to provide the free power to the farm sector and poor sections till today March 31, 2009.
From tomorrow, new tariff order is to become effective. However, the regulatory authority had not issued new tariff order for the next year (2009-10) due to legal hurdles. However, as the election code of conduct is in force in the state, any concession, period of which had ended, cannot be extended without the ECís nod .
In fact, the regulatory authority had to delay processing of new tariff order for next year (2009-10) because the Punjab government and the PSEB had not provided it with the extension granted to the board for its unbundling. Owing to this, the PSEBís legal status had become untenable forcing the regulatory authority to ask the PSEB to provide it with the letter extending its unbundling by the Union government.
Sources said the regulatory authority had also allowed the PSEB to continue charging current tariff from the power consumer till new tariff order by it for 2009-10. The new order is likely be issued in the first week of June. Meanwhile, the state government has paid the entire subsidy amount for current year to the PSEB. The last instalment of Rs 114 crore was paid today, it is learnt.