In a unusual move to ease the burden on consumers, the Delhi government today asked the city's power regulator DERC not to hike electricity tariff till it examines demands from discoms to increase the rates.
The Chief Minister's office said the government has asked the DERC not to announce the new tariff order for the financial year 2010-11 for "time being" and keep the rates for various categories at the same level as that of last year.
"The government has written to DERC to communicate to the discoms that tariff of various categories would stay at the same level as that of last year," it said in a statement.
DERC (Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission) is an independent statutory authority and the city government never in the past issued such directive to it although it has power to do so under section 108 of the Delhi Electricity Act.
There was speculation that power tariff may increase in the city and even Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit had given an indication to this when she said people have money to pay more for power.
The discoms have been pressing for a substantial hike in power tariff for the financial year 2010-11 arguing that that cost of buying power from the open market has increased manifold.
"The government felt that the issues raised by discoms are serious and has accordingly directed DERC to examine these issues and to submit its statutory advice on these issues to the Government," the statement said.
Officials in the DERC said they will send a letter to the government explaining the actual revenue position of the discoms as it has already scrutinised the financial position of all the discoms.
"After scrutiny of the financial position, we have found that the discoms have a total of Rs 1,200 crore surplus money in 2009-10. There was no question of any hike in tariff. We were actually planning to pass on the benefit to the consumers," said a source in the DERC.
The government said "it felt that to protect the interests of the consumers it would be prudent to direct the DERC not to announce their new tariff structure till the time Government is able to prudently examine the issues raised by the discoms."
The discoms had submitted representations to the government requesting for a hike in tariff arguing that their "revenue gaps have accumulated beyond sustainable levels."
When asked, a spokesperson of the Tata-backed discom NDPL said the demand for hike in tariff is justified but left it to DERC to take a final call on the issue.