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SAD says Cong land sharks including close relative of FM selling off Bathinda thermal plant for vested interests

PUNJAB NEW EXPRESS | July 17, 2020 10:38 PM

BATHINDA: The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) today said Congress land sharks including a close relative of finance minister Manpreet Singh Badal were selling off a State treasure – the Guru Nanak Dev thermal plant for their vested interests.

The party also demanded the government reverse its decision to downsize the employee strength in the Water Resources department by as much as 8, 675 employees. It said the Congress government had not given any jobs under the ‘ghar ghar naukri yojna’ but was cutting down the sanctioned strength of the Water Resources department from 24, 263 employees to 15, 606. It announced that it would not allow this anti-employee step to take place.

Addressing a press conference here, senior SAD leaders Sikander Singh Maluka and Sarup Chand Singla besides Youth Akali Dal (YAD) President Parambans Singh Romana said it was shocking that that 1764-acres of the Bathinda thermal plant were being sold off to land sharks in the name of an industrial park. Condemning this move, the leaders said there were numerous complaints of land grabbing by the de-facto FM in Bathinda and Gidderbaha areas. “People are already paying the infamous Jojo tax which was collected by the finance minister's close relative. Now these same people are claiming that an industrial park will come up at the thermal plant site. This is a complete sham as the Industrial growth centre in Bathinda was already lying vacant with investors not ready to invest in the city due to extortions like Jojo tax levied on existing industrialists”.

Reminding the finance minister of his promise to bring in 60 major industries in Punjab in sixty months, the senior leaders asked him to first tell how many industries he had got to the State and Bathinda in the last three and a half years. “When your track record on this issue is a big zero how can you expect the citizens of Bathinda to believe you that you are dismantling the prestigious thermal plant to build an industrial park and not selling off the land to make a quick profit?”, Mr Maluka told the finance minister.

Speaking about the thermal plant, Mr Maluka, Mr Singla and Mr Romana said the erstwhile SAD-BJP government spent Rs 700 crore to upgrade the plant to extend its life till 2031. They said Mr Manpreet Badal’s logic in closing the plant was deceitful. “On the one hand the FM is suspicious about the PPAs signed during the SAD-BJP tenure and has questioning the cost of power being received from the private plants. Simultaneously Mr Manpreet Badal says power being purchased from private plants is so cheap that it forced the government to shut down the State-owned Bathinda plant. There is a simple rule of economics. If you don't run a plant at its optimum capacity it will affect the per unit production cost. The Congress government deliberately ran the plant at ten per cent capacity to make its power cost unviable”. The leaders also expressed solidarity with thermal plant employees who lost their jobs and had to vacate their homes.

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