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Fearing blackout in assembly polls, Sonia
advises Madhya Pradesh CM to buy power
Shahid K Abbas in New Delhi |
June 03, 2003 18:58 IST
Populism finally prevailed over talk of prudent planning as Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Digvijay Singh stepped up efforts to bring down the resentment against his government on the issue of power shortage in view of the November assembly polls.
He has decided to divert funds amounting to about Rs 500 crore (Rs five billion) from various departments to purchase power to combat the acute electricity crisis, which threatens to mess up the ruling party's chances of retaining power.
Admitting that Congress president Sonia Gandhi had advised him to purchase power from other Congress-ruled states, Singh said, "We are getting some help from Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and the National Thermal Power Corporation."
Addressing a press conference in Delhi, Singh disclosed that 'Rs 50 crore (Rs 500million) per month' has been earmarked for purchasing power, but refused to divulge the departments from where funds were being diverted.
He did not express confidence in the viability of power generation by the private sector citing the example of Enron's much-hyped Dabhol power project.
"After the creation of Chhattisgarh, MP is facing a major power crisis with a peak hour shortage of 1500-2000 Mega Watts. To meet this shortfall, upcoming power projects are expected to generate an additional 3,673 MW between 2003-08."
"The problem is the size of the state, the dispersed population and the high forest density, which has affected the road network. We are trying to rectify the situation on a war footing with annual investments nearing Rs 2,000 crore (Rs 20 billion)," he said.
Singh confined his press conference only to developmental issues.
Taking a dig at the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party, the chief minister said, "After Gujarat, the BJP tried its best to incite communal violence in MP as well. But, after having failed on that front, they have now come to the issue of development. This is a welcome change."
The chief minister claimed that MP had registered "unprecedented all-round growth during 1994-2002."
"During this period, the state joined the league of faster growing Indian states registering an annual growth of 6 per cent, excluding 2000-2001 when we were faced with a drought."
"It improved literacy levels from 44 to 64 per cent, reduced the population growth rate and levels of unemployment. It reserved jobs for women, allotted over 600,000 hectares of land to landless dalits, and transferred the entire income from minor and major forest produce to adivasis. It also initiated several reforms in governance that won the state national and international awards," he claimed.
The chief minister rejected Union Law Minister Arun Jaitley's allegations that the development claims made by his state were mere hogwash.
Jaitley had reportedly based his observations on a report by the Confederation of Indian Industry.
"Firstly, the CII has not issued any such report. Secondly, it is based on incorrect data," Digvijay Singh claimed while announcing that he would send a point-by-point reply to Jaitley on Wednesday (June 4).