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Amarinder reviews power situation as Sidhu yet to take charge of dept

twitter-logo PTI        Last Updated: July 10, 2019  | 20:54 IST

Chandigarh, Jul 10 (PTI) Amid the ongoing tussle between him and his minister Navjot Singh Sidhu, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh Wednesday held a meeting to review the power situation in the state. Sidhu, who went incommunicado after the last month's cabinet reshuffle, is yet to take charge of the power and new and renewable energy portfolio. He was divested of the Local Bodies and Tourism and Cultural Affairs Departments after he was blamed for the Congress' poor show in urban areas during the Lok Sabha elections. It was the first high-level meeting of the department ever since the portfolios of the ministers were reshuffled last month. Meanwhile, the opposition parties--SAD, BJP and AAP-- slammed Amarinder Singh, raising a question over his leadership. They claimed that the ongoing standoff between the two leaders had led to a situation akin to a "constitutional crisis" as a cabinet minister was "not ready to obey orders" of his CM. At the meeting, Amarinder Singh ordered a crackdown against power theft to check losses to Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL), particularly in the areas bordering Pakistan and Haryana. The CM directed the chief secretary to issue detailed guidelines to police and civil administration to check power theft besides ensuring adequate police protection to the PSPCL staff. On mounting subsidy arrears, the finance department was directed to ensure timely release of payments to help the power entity operate seamlessly and efficaciously. The Chief Minister said the issue of tardy coal supply to thermal plants in the state had already been taken up with the Centre, who had been requested to direct Coal India Limited to ensure regular and uninterrupted supply for a smooth generation of power in the state. He asked the PSPCL chairman to expedite the Shahpur Kandi power project as an alternative source of eco-friendly hydropower generation, which is expected to result in financial benefits of Rs 250-300 crore per year to the PSPCL. PSPCL chairman and managing director BS SRA told the chief minister that the total power demand in the state had gone up by 17.78 per cent in June this year, which further escalated to 33.31 per cent as of date, compared with the corresponding periods of the previous year. This, he said, was the result of a prolonged dry spell and delayed monsoon. There was also an increase of 37 per cent in the demand for power consumption in the agriculture sector this June as against the corresponding month last year, primarily due to the advancement of paddy sowing by 10 days. PTI CHS VSD RDK RDK

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