The Hush Post: Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh on Wednesday categorically ruled out any rollback on the decision to provide power to the industry at a subsidised rate of Rs 5 per unit. The decision had already been taken by his government and ratified by the cabinet, he said, setting at rest all apprehensions of any change in this regard. In a statement issued here, the Chief Minister said the notification on the industrial power subsidy had been slightly delayed only to give the Department of Industries the time to resolve some critical issues faced by the industry on account of the newly imposed fixed power tariff.

The 2-part power tariff structure announced by Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) would prevent the benefits of the subsidy from reaching the bulk industrial power consumers, such as the steel industry and the large units with co-generation capacities, said the Chief Minister, adding that he had received various representations from the industry seeking government intervention to minimise the adverse effect of the fixed tariff.

Elaborating on the problem, Capt Amarinder pointed out that large units, dependent on co-generation, were forced to install massive external power capacities, and were required to pay fixed charges on the same, even though the usage of power from the grid was minimal. The plight of the steel industry was somewhat similar, as it required large power capacities for the cold start of its machines, and had to pay fixed tariff on the same even though the bulk consumption was much lower.

The chief minister said he had directed the Chief Secretary, Additional Chief Secretary (Power), Chairman PSPCL and Secretary Industries to work out the modalities, in consultation with representatives of industry, to resolve the matter.

The officials have been asked to come out with their recommendations and submit them to the regulator by the end of the month, so that the benefit of the subsidy can reach the entire industry in the state, with the fixed tariff impact being minimised.

If the power subsidy announced by the government fails to positively impact the industry across the board, the whole purpose of providing the industrial power subsidy would be defeated, said Captain Amarinder.

The Chief Minister pointed out that he had been personally engaged with the industry over the past nine months to invite them to invest in Punjab. His entire endeavour to woo the industry was based on the promised power tariff subsidy and the ease of business, which was central to the new industrial policy.

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