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Populist line is a short circuit

HT Correspondent.

delhi Updated: Aug 25, 2009 00:00 IST
HT Correspondent

The government’s populist decision to retain a subsidy of Re 1 per unit for those who restrict their usage up to 200 units per month, will benefit only a few consumers.

In the summer of 2008, with its string of exceptionally, unseasonably cool days, a huge number of consumers could avail of this subsidy (around 14.26 lakh out of 32 lakh consumers availed of subsidised electricity during peak summer months of May and June, 2008).

But the figure came down to half — around six lakh — this summer.

“How can the government expect us to restrict power usage to 200 units? These days, any cooling apparatus used for a few hours per day would shoot up the unit consumption much beyond that,” said Rajiv Kakria of GK-1 residents’ welfare association.

According to officials of the Capital’s private power distributors, the number of people restricting the unit consumption to 200 per month has halved this summer because last year’s cool weather was an aberration.

“The conservation subsidy can work only with economically weaker sections, but even the number of poor families availing of this subsidy has thinned this year,” said a senior spokesman of a distribution company.

The agriculture subsidy, which was introduced last year as one of the targeted subsidies, has also been retained.

“This decision has been taken keeping in view our commitment to provide relief to those domestic consumers who are really vulnerable and have been restricting their monthly consumption,” said Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit after the Cabinet meeting on Monday.