With elections out of the way, gloves are off. In its first potentially unpopular decision, the Delhi government on Monday withdrew a subsidy that kept the monthly electricity bill low in the Capital.
Prepare to pay between 25 and 55 paise more per unit if you consume more than 200 units a month, which an average household logs up quite easily. An average single-air conditioner home uses up around 600 units a month.
“That subsidy lapsed on May 31,” said Delhi power secretary Rajendra Kumar.
“We have, instead, decided to continue the subsidy of Re 1 per unit for those who restrict usage up to 200 units and also for agricultural users,” he added.
Even at these unplugged rates, without the subsidy, the Delhi consumer has a better deal than people in Mumbai and Kolkata, and those across the city limits in Faridabad and Gurgaon.
The government had put the subsidy in suspended animation — it stood withdrawn, but it was mulling extending it. The Lok Sabha elections were just around the corner then.
Now with the elections out of the way and all seven seats in its bag, the Congress government has decided to withdraw the sop, which was costing it around Rs 200 crore annually, starting 2006.
The state electricity regulator had then announced a hike in power rates as demanded by distribution companies. But Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit’s government had decided to take the hit and spare consumers.
That cushion stands withdrawn now.
But there is the additional issue of quality of supply. “Why should we pay more for power when the service of power distributors is so poor,” asked Dr M. Mohanty, president of the Delhi Residents’ Federation.
“There are frequent power cuts, regular disputes over inflated bills and general mismanagement. As consumers, Delhiites are not happy to pay more for power.”