Farmers grappling with crop loss and mounting loans in Madhya Pradesh received another blow in the form of power tariff increase.
Under the revised tariff announced on Tuesday, farmers who paid Rs 1,200 per year for one-horsepower capacity irrigation pump will have to shell out an additional Rs 200 for the agriculture connection in the 2016-17 fiscal.
Bharat Krishak Samaj, a forum for agriculture producers, opposed the hike.
RN Bharadwaj, a member of the association, said a farmer pays Rs 6,000 for a five-horsepower pump but will now have to pay Rs 7,000.
He said there was no one to keep a watch on the workings of power distribution companies in Madhya Pradesh, noting that none of the three discoms published their audit records in newspapers as required by public companies.
A 5% surcharge on industries during peak hours — from 6 to 10 pm — was withdrawn for the first time, and a rebate during night hours — from 10 pm to 6 am — was increased from 15 to 20%.
“This is a big relief to industries which require 24x7 power,” former MP State Electricity Board additional superintendent Ramesh C Somani said.
However, overall charges for high-tension electricity consumers were increased from Rs 5.6 to 6.10 per unit. Fixed charges were also increased.
RK Agrawal, retired additional chief engineer of MP Power Generating Company, said the 8% hike for industries at a time when there is surplus power in the state was uncalled for.
He noted that industries in Maharashtra are given concession in power tariff when there is power shortage, but the situation was the opposite in Madhya Pradesh.
For anyone looking to challenge this increase, the exorbitant fees are a major deterrent.
Agrawal said it costs Rs 1 lakh to appeal in the appellate tribunal in Delhi, and filing a review application before the Madhya Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission sets you back another Rs 25,000. Mahakaushal Chamber of Commerce and Industries senior member Shankar Nagdeo said instead for checking power theft, discoms were passing the financial burden on to consumers.
The tariff hike is counterproductive, said Mahakaushal Udyog Sangh general secretary DR Jaiswani. Consumption would have gone up if the tariff was not increased and discoms would have higher profits.
Domestic consumers too were not spared.
The average electricity rate for low-tension category connections, which include domestic users, small shops and business establishments, was increased by 6-7%. Fixed charges for industries using 260 to 270 KW was increased by 1%.
The new tariff order also revised charges on excess demand of electricity by LT industries. Accordingly, there will be no charge up to 5% extra demand.
In addition, the new tariff introduced demand-based tariff for big shops and malls. This means that discoms will now charge in accordance with the amount of electricity used and not on the total installed capacity of a building.
Nagrik Upbhokta Margdarshak Manch senior member Dr PG Najpandey said consumers with power consumption up to 30 units per month will have to pay 9% more duty on one of the components in the bill.