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AP CM, ex-CM cross swords in Assembly over PPAs relating to wind, solar energy

Our Bureau Vijayawada | Updated on July 19, 2019 Published on July 19, 2019

File Photo of former AP Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu

Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Jaganmohan Reddy and former Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu on Friday got involved in a heated debate in the State Assembly on the power purchase agreements signed during the five-year TDP rule, with the former alleging “a huge ₹3,000-crore or even ₹4,000-crore per annum scam” and the latter hotly contesting it.

Ever since the new State government announced its decision to review all the PPAs relating to solar and wind power signed during the TDP regime, a controversy has been raging in the State over the issue. Even the Centre has shot off two letters to the new government advising the new government to desist from such a course of action as it would adversely affect investments in the sector. But the YSR Congress government has made it clear that it will go ahead with the review.

On Friday, the former Chief Minister began the debate in the Assembly, rebutting the charges made by the YSR Congress leaders and some officials on the issue in the past few days. “I held a press conference outside the House a few days ago and placed the facts before the public on the issue. The so-called expert committee appointed by the State government to go into the issue is misleading the public. A senior retd IAS official, Ajay Kallam, presently an Adviser to the Chief Minister, has said that the renewable power purchase obligation (RPO) is only 5 per cent, whereas it is in fact 17 per cent as fixed by the Central Electricity Regulatory Authority. The absurd charge is that the TDP government had purchased costly wind and solar power far in excess of the required RPO and thereby favoured the private companies (developers) and placed a huge, unnecessary burden on the State exchequer.”

The former Chief Minister said that the PPAs were signed perfectly in consonance with the guidelines and policies of the Union Government on renewable energy and there was absolutely no deviation whatsoever. “I do not think that the Chief Minister, who is also a businessman and a power developer, is unaware of the facts. He has two renewable energy plants in Karnataka and he is selling power at ₹4.50 or more per unit in that State. He wants power developers in AP to sell power cheaply but he does not follow his own advice in Karnataka. His double standards are evident. I have all the facts and figures to nail the lies of the Chief Minister and officials like Ajay Kallam,” he said and produced a number of documents in the Assembly to prove his point.

He rebutted, point by point, all the charges levelled against him on RPO, must-run clause and several related issues, and concluded, “The ignorance of YSR Congress leaders is appalling and even after the sage counsel given by the Centre on the issue, they refuse to mend their ways.”

In a stinging retort to the former Chief Minister, Jaganmohan Reddy said, “The mind of Chandrababu Naidu is like the proverbial dog’s tail, which can never be straightened. It shall always remain crooked. He is indulging in his favourite pastime - misleading the public with half-truths and untruths. In the first place, on the issue of RPO, the State is not governed by the directive of the Central Electricity Regulatory Commission but is bound by the State Electricity Regulatory Commission. It is clear as daylight that the State government during the TDP rule was buying very costly renewable energy - wind and solar - from a few companies favoured by the then Chief Minister far in excess of the stipulated RPO. Thermal power was available in the State during the period at roughly ₹4.24 per unit and wind power was being purchased at ₹4.84 per unit from wind power developers. Where was the justification and the necessity? It’s a huge scam and according to our rough calculations the loss to the State exchequer was no less than ₹2,766 crore per annum. In fact, all told, it may even run into ₹4,000 crore per annum. In the bargain, the State has lost heavily and a few companies close to the former Chief Minister have made a killing.”

He alleged that “instead of responding to the pointed and specific charges being levelled against him, the former Chief Minister is seeking to deflect and divert attention by attacking the officials. He owes an explanation to the public of the State. Once the expert committee report is out, we will expose him for what he is - a scamster - and let the people decide.”

He justified review of all the PPAs relating wind and solar power and asserted once again that the State government would go ahead with it.

Angered by the Chief Minister’s remarks, the TDP members sought a chance to rebut the charges, but the Speaker, T Sitaram, adjourned the House.

Published on July 19, 2019
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