Patiala, September 30 : Punjab Chief Minister Mr. Parkash Singh Badal today declared that the state government would not take any decision relating to unbundling of PSEB without taking board Engineers’ into consultation.
Addressing the General Body Meeting of PSEB Engineers’ Association here at Guru Teg Bahadur Hall in Punjabi University Patiala, Mr. Badal clarified that state government had not yet made up its mind for unbundling of State Electricity Board because the similar process initiated in few other states like Orissa, Haryana, Rajasthan, Andhra Pardesh, Uttar Pardesh and Karnataka had evoked mixed response, as in some states it had proved to be successful and an utter failure in the rest. He said the state government was not keen to implement the process of unbundling rather it was far more interested in improving its financial health. He said , ‘ PSEB is one of the most efficient state electricity boards in the country with proven track record of expertise coupled with efficient man power and excellent infrastructure which could further improve its economic viability’.. He said the state government would deliberate upon all the relevant aspects of unbundling with the representatives of the Engineers’ Association at a special smaller meeting to be shortly convened at Chandigarh to thrash out the issues viz unbundling, strengthening of transmission and distribution (T & D) systems and augmentation of generation capacity.
The Chief Minister called upon the engineers of the board to chalk out an action programme to prevent the theft of electricity with a firm hand. He said if we were able to check this menace which resulted in the loss of revenue worth crores could further help in improving financial health of board. At the same time, the chief minister asked the engineers to keep a strict vigil around the clock to nab the defaulters and erring officials who in connivance with these anti social elements were responsible for huge loses accumulated by the board over past many years due to these malpractices. He asked the engineers that their respect and prestige symbolizes the respect and prestige of the government and reiterated that their interest would be safe guarded at all costs. He impressed upon them to perform their duties with utmost dedication, sincerity and professional commitment in the larger public interest as the salary they get was paid from the hard earned money of the public by way of taxes paid by them.
Mr. Badal appreciated the Association’s concern for strengthening the power sector. He said, ‘you and me both are equally concerned for the augmentation of power generation because power alone is the growth engine of economic development’. He said when our government took reins in March 2007 we had a total power generation capacity of 6250 MW which had now been stepped up to 6609 MW with the start of Lehra Mohabbat Phase II thermal plant. He pointed out the state government was committed to generate additional power capacity of 6980 MW with in next three years with the setting up of three new thermal plants in Mansa, Rajpura and Goindwal Sahib besides these additional power would also be generated from the bio-mass and due to state’s share from the Center Assisted Super Mega thermal plants. He stressed on the need for long term planning specially in the power sector since it was a crucial sector for an overall development of the economy and its demand was ever increasing. He cited an example of Japan ‘s economy where advanced planning for even 100 years was done to execute government plans and schemes in a meticulous manner.
To improve the functioning of the board which had been badly hit due to paucity of staff, Mr. Badal said that the state government had given in-principal approval to the board to fill up 225 posts each of Sub Divisional Engineers (SDEs) and Junior Engineers besides 125 Sub-Station Assistant (SSA) through a special recruitment drive. He said all these posts would be filled strictly on the merit in a transparent manner.
In his address President of PSEB Engineers’ Association Mr. H.S. Bedi categorically said that before deciding on corporatization & restructuring of PSEB, Punjab Government must decide whether it intends to run this organization on purely commercial lines or as a service sector for the welfare of the public.
Speaking on the occasion Patron of the PSEB Engineers’ Association Mr. M.S. Bajwa mentioned that the Electricity Act 2003 was widely misinterpreted that it was mandatory for the states to unbundle their SEBs as per the Act. He clarified that as per section 131 of the Act SEBs could be converted into a company i.e. one company which would be a distribution licensee and State Transmission Utility (STU) owning generation assets, He pointed out Kerala government had issued notification to convert Kerala SEB in to one company and like wise, PSEB could also be notified.
In his address All India Power Engineers Federation Secretary General Mr. Shailender Dubey said that the Punjab government should look into all the pros and cons of unbundling because before taking up this process. He said the government must bear one of the most important factors in the mind that public utility service was the sole motto of the SEBs being primarily the service providers and not the commercial entities alone.
Earlier, the Chief Minister released a Souvenir and honored the Retd. Chief Engineer Mr. Nirvair Singh and Executive engineer Mr. S.S.. Josan for their out standing services towards the development of board. Prominent amongst who were present on the occasion included Advisor to Chief Minister Mr. Harcharan Bains, Principal Secretary Irrigation & Power Mr. Suresh Kumar, Chairman PSEB Mr. Y.S. Ratra and Secretary PSEB Mr. Husan Lal President NRI wing SAD Mr. Surjit Singh Rakhra, Deputy Commissioner Patiala Mr. Vikas Garg besides the senior officer and members of the board.
Earliest, the Chief Minister met the representatives of the District Bar Association at Court Complex and listened to their grievances. He presented a cheque of Rs. 23 lacs to the President of the District Bar Association Mr. K.P. Singh for the installation of elevator in the premises of Advocate Chambers. Mr. Badal also assured the members that he would soon take up the matter for the construction of additional chambers for the advocates with the PUDA.
During his last leg of the Sangat Darshan Programme in Patiala the Chief Minister also held Sangat Darshan in Ward No. 25,44,43,22,21,20,27 & 26 with this, he completed his entire Sangat Darshan Programme here.