Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann said his government is fulfilling a guarantee made to people of the state as from Friday each household will be getting 300 units of free electricity every month.
Mann said the government has also waived arrears of electricity bills pending till December 31, 2021 of all households.
He said there was some confusion among people that arrears of up to 2 KW were waived but it is being clarified that pending electricity bills of all connections till December 31, 2021 have been waived by his government.
The AAP government had earlier announced giving 300 units of free power to every household from July 1.
“Previous governments used to make promises during elections, five years would pass by the time promises were fulfilled but our government has set a new example in Punjab’s history,” he said in a tweet.
“Today, we are going to fulfill another guarantee given to Punjabis. From today, each family in Punjab will get 300 units of free electricity per month,” Mann said.
Giving 300 units of free electricity was one of the major poll promises of the Aam Aadmi Party during the Punjab assembly elections. The party’s national convener Arvind Kejriwal had promised free electricity up to 300 units for the state in June last year.
Kejriwal had also promised waiver of pending electricity bills and round-the-clock power supply in the state.
In the month of April, CM Mann had said if electricity consumption exceeds 600 units in two months, then a consumer will have to pay for the entire power usage.
But the Scheduled Castes, backward castes, below-poverty-line households and freedom fighters will be charged just for over and above 600 units, the chief minister had then clarified.
Punjab has a two-month billing cycle for power supply.
There are a total of 73.50 lakh domestic consumers in the state and of which, 61 lakh families are expected to benefit from the 300 units of free electricity.
In the state budget, a total power subsidy bill has been proposed at Rs 15,845 crore as against Rs 13,443 crore in 2021-22. Punjab provides subsided power to various categories and out of which, the subsidy bill on account of free electricity to the farming sector alone is around 7,000 crore.
It also provides free power of 200 units to SC, BC, BPL families and freedom fighters and gives power to the industrial sector at Rs 5 per unit.
AAP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Raghav Chadha on Friday said Punjab has become the second state after Delhi to provide free electricity to people.
Today is a historic day as Punjab becomes the second state after Delhi to get lifeline electricity free of cost. ‘Kejriwal di pehli (first) guarantee’ to Punjabis becomes a reality, Chadha tweeted.
Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema, while presenting the AAP-government’s maiden budget on June 27 had said providing 300 units of free power would put an additional burden of Rs 1,800 crore on the state exchequer.
The AAP government is fulfilling its first guarantee made to the people of Punjab by providing 300 units of domestic power supply per month free to all citizens of Punjab with effect from July 1.
This will bring big relief to Punjabis, who are reeling under exorbitant power bills, Cheema had said.
He had also said the state government had already planned to finance this scheme by cutting wasteful expenditure and through enhancement of its own tax revenue.
Meanwhile, Punjab BJP general secretary Subhash Sharma called the AAP government’s free electricity scheme “fraud”, saying that households consuming more than 300 units of electricity will have to pay the entire electricity bill.
“Lakhs of families are feeling cheated,” said Sharma.