Power purchase: govt may nail BJP with report

DKS-led House panel to finalise report by Oct 30

Speculation is rife in political circles that the ruling Congress is trying to turn the tables on the BJP by using a Legislative Assembly committee set up to probe reported irregularities in the purchase of power between 2005 and 2013.

Energy Minister D K Shivakumar, who heads the House committee, is said to be working overtime to finalise the report so that it can be tabled in the winter session of the legislature next month. Shivakumar is learnt to have convened a meeting of the committee on October 30 for this purpose.

This could put BJP state president B S Yeddyurappa, who was then the chief minister, and Shobha Karandlaje, who was then the Energy minister, in a spot. The BJP leaders had last week accused Chief Minister Siddaramaiah and Shivakumar of being involved in a Rs 447-crore scam pertaining to coal block allocation.

Shivakumar said that the House Committee on Irregularities in Power Purchase will finalise its report by October 30, as it has to be laid in the Legislative Assembly in the upcoming winter session.

The House panel was formed in 2014 after JD(S) leader H D Kumaraswamy, during the Assembly session, demanded a probe into “reckless” purchase of high-cost power during the BJP government.

In 2006, the then JD(S)-BJP coalition purchased 40.5 million units of power for Rs 28 crore. In 2008, when the BJP came to power, 4,181 million units of power was purchased from various sources for Rs 1,943 crore, Kumaraswamy had claimed. The money spent on purchase of power shot up subsequently, touching Rs 4,839 crore in 2012 while power-generating units remained underutilised, the JD(S) leader had said.

On seeking to know whether the government will order a high-level investigation into the power-purchase issue, Siddaramaiah on Tuesday said: “The House Committee report is awaited. I cannot comment now. Once the report is submitted, the government will decide which agency should take the investigation forward.”

Meanwhile, Shobha has said she could not be held responsible for irregularities as the onus would fall on officials. “She is saying that to escape. Isn’t it the minister who is answerable on the goings-on in a particular department?,” Siddaramaiah asked.

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