Candidates of all the major political parties vying for the lone parliamentary seat of Chandigarh were conspicuous by their absence in the public hearing session organised by the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission (JERC) on Friday here to take up crucial issues related to power supply in the city.
Interestingly, despite repeated notifications carried out by the power department, none of them were aware of the session and were occupied with the election-related programmes.
Sitting member of parliament (MP) Pawan Kumar Bansal of the Congress, Kirron Kher of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Aam Aadmi Party's (AAP) Gul Panag and Jannat Jahan of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) are the prominent faces in race for the Chandigarh Lok Sabha seat.
Taking to HT, Bansal said that he was not aware of the event, but maintained that they can appeal the decision taken by the commission later. Candidates of the BJP, BSP and AAP also expressed ignorance about the event.
There are nearly 2 lakh consumers in Chandigarh falling under several categories, 1.75 lakh of whom comprise the domestic bracket. According to figures provided by the election department, Chandigarh has 5.87 lakh voters, up from 5.24 lakh in 2009.
During the session, various power-related issues, such as the proposed 21%hike in existing tariffs, were deliberated upon by various resident welfare, industrial and trade associations.
Industries Association of Chandigarh (IAC) president Arun Mahajan said, "Electricity related issues are of great importance and the candidates of major parties should have taken part in the exercise to submit their suggestions and objections."
Activist and advocate Ajay Jagga said the candidates should be more considerate and aware of the issue related to general public. "Those who had already filed their nomination in past should have taken part or at least send their representatives," said Jagga.
In the past few years, the electricity department has been struggling to streamline its system and has also failed to roll-out power reforms.
The electricity department has proposed hikes in several slabs of domestic and commercial categories and submitted it before the commission on January 21 for approval. The administration had last increased the tariffs in April 2012.
In the domestic category, the electricity department has proposed a hike from Rs 2.30 to Rs 2.78 in the slab of 0-150 units, while in the slab of 151-400 units, an increase from Rs 4.20 to Rs 4.60 has been proposed.
In the commercial category, Rs 4.30 to Rs 4.70 in the slab between 0-150, Rs 4.50 to Rs 5.30 in the slab of 151-400, and Rs 4.70 to Rs 5.70 in slab above 400 units has been proposed.