The war of words between BJP ministers at the Centre and AIADMK leaders in Tamil Nadu intensified on Tuesday with yet another minister in the Jayalalithaa ministry slamming Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet Ujwal Discom Assurance Yojna (UDAY) project, saying that it is a ‘short-sighted’ one.
“The Union government’s UDAY scheme won’t benefit Tamil Nadu. For political reasons, Piyush Goyal is spreading false allegations against Tamil Nadu,” state electricity minister Natham R Viswanathan said.
His comment comes a day after Tamil Nadu finance minister O Panneerselvam hit back at Goyal for his comment on Tamil Nadu in general and Jayalalithaa in particular.
Union power minister Piyush Goyal had said Tamil Nadu remained one state that he could not reach out to.
In an 11-page letter released to the media, the TN power minister said the Union government’s UDAY scheme is short-sighted one and it will benefit only private power companies and banks, but not states like Tamil Nadu.
Viswanathan said the UDAY scheme will not benefit the people of Tamil Nadu and that is why Tamil Nadu did not sign to be part of the scheme. While in one side of the country power is surplus, in many other parts, there is a deficit, he added.
About 75,000 MW of power generation is not being used since many of the state discoms (distribution companies) are not able to buy power since they are loss-making.
The private power generation companies are not able to repay the debt and interest to banks and many of the power projects are running in low PLF and are turning into NPA.
“If the state government takes the debt of the discoms, they can borrow more money and in turn they can procure power from the private sector, which will increase the PLF of the power generation companies and increase their profits,” said Viswanathan.
He said the original beneficiary of UDAY scheme is the private power generation companies and the banks which have given loan to them.
The state government or the common people are not going to get any benefit from this, he said and also questioned why the Centre didn’t look at other options to bail out discoms as well as to support state power companies.
He pointed out that in October 2015, chief minister Jayalalithaa had written a letter to the prime minister, requesting him to change the scheme, but was yet to receive a reply.
Joining the debate, state finance minister Panneerselvam had alleged that Prime Minister Modi did not give appointment to the AIADMK MPs to discuss release of fishermen who are languishing in Sri Lankan jails, and its opposition to the revival of the GAIL pipeline project in seven western districts.
Instead, the MPs had to submit the representation to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj.
Addressing a youth conference in New Delhi on March 25, Goyal had alleged that there was a lack of response from the Tamil Nadu government and he could not reach out to Jayalalithaa despite making several attempts.
Panneerselvam had termed Goyal’s allegations unfair and said it was ‘without an iota of truth in it’.