Punjab Govt releases Rs 320 crore to Electricity Board

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Patiala, Nov 27 (UNI) Punjab Government today released the first instalment of Rs 320 crore to Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) to pay its monthly bills and salary to the Board employees.

The state Government had decided to release Rs 1608 crore for the subsidised power being given by the Board to the agricultural sector by the cash-strapped PSEB.

PSEB will get five monthly instalments of Rs 320 crore each and first instalment was released today.

The government had moved to provide the much-needed money to the PSEB because of its precarious financial position as well as the realisation that any default on coal payments and resultant problems could severely embarrass the government in the run-up to the Lok Sabha elections.

PSEB has run up a short-term debt of Rs 6,200 crore. The Board had a short-term debt of only Rs 844 crore ending March 2006.

Besides this, the PSEB is saddled with a long-term debt of Rs 13,000 crore and accumulated losses of Rs 7,000 crore.

The state government had earlier committed to the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission that it would provide a subsidy of Rs 2,600 crore to the Board on account of free power being given to agricultural sector as well as domestic usage being incurred by Scheduled Caste families living below the poverty line. The government had, however, failed to stick to the Regulatory Commission order to give this money to the Board in four quarterly advance payments.

Till now, the Government has managed to give the Board only Rs 1,000 crore for the free power to the agri sector.

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