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`Congress adopts double standards on free power'

Our Bureau

The Andhra Pradesh Minister for Information and Public Relations, Mr S. Chandra Mohan Reddy, said the decision of the Punjab Cabinet to scrap the free power policy has vindicated the stand of the State Government that free power was not feasible.

HYDERABAD, Oct. 17

THE Andhra Pradesh Government on Thursday strongly condemned the `double standards' of the Congress Party on the issue of free power supply in the State and advised the party to implement free power supply in the 14 States where it is in power.

Addressing a press conference here, the Andhra Pradesh Minister for Information and Public Relations, Mr S. Chandra Mohan Reddy, said the latest decision of the Punjab Cabinet to scrap the free power policy had vindicated the stand of the State Government that free power was not feasible.

According to the Minister, promises made by the State-based Congress leaders on free power were only to deceive the public, targeted at the next Assembly elections. He advised the Pradesh Congress Committee (PCC) and the Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leaders to obtain approvals of the high command in Delhi on the supply of free power and make Ms Sonia Gandhi formally announce the party's policy on free power.

Stating that the State Government under the leadership of the Telugu Desam Party had invested over Rs 10,000 crore in the last five years to improve the power situation, Mr Reddy said an action plan to invest another Rs 7,500 crore to improve power transmission and distribution system in the next four years had been prepared.

According to the Minister, the State was better placed with regard to power supply management compared to many other States and it topped in the latest ratings announced by premier rating agencies such as Crisil and ICRA.

Comparing the situation with Punjab, where the total installed capacity of power was only 3,275 MW, the capacity in the State stood at 9,842 MW, which is second highest in the country after Maharashtra, he said.

Comparing the tariff structure, Mr Reddy said the per horsepower per annum tariff stood at Rs 720 in Punjab as against just Rs 275 up to three horsepower offered in the State. For the farming community, Andhra Pradesh was offering power between 20 paise to 10 paise per unit, while it was being offered at 57 paise in Punjab.

Following a decision of the Cabinet recently, the Punjab Government hiked the power tariff between eight to 11 per cent, he said.

According to Mr Chandra Mohan Reddy, in a move to save crops both in kharif and rabi seasons and to compensate shortfall in hydro generation, the State Government procured 1,362 MU of additional power at a cost of Rs 895 crore during 2001-02 from Gridco (Orissa), Eastern Region, Chhattisgarh, Western Region and from Central Generating Station.

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