Eyeing assembly polls in Punjab and Goa and MCD elections in Delhi, the Aam Aadmi Party government has decided to continue the 50% subsidy on electricity bills and the free water scheme in the next financial year.
Sources said, ministers, senior party members and workers have been specifically asked to highlight the two flagship schemes as AAP’s ‘governance achievement’ while campaigning for the elections. Even as both the offers were supposed to last only for a year, it is the second time that the government has extended them.
“These are the most noticeable changes we have made in Delhi and they have benefitted lakhs of people. So, we have been asked to represent these initiatives as a ‘model’ that would be implemented in Goa. AAP’s manifesto for Goa promises the same things, including building mohalla clinics,” said a party member working for the Goa polls.
Fulfilling its big ticket election promise, the AAP in just 11 days after coming to power in the Capital had halved monthly electricity bills for those consuming up to 400 units besides offering up to 20,000 litres of free water every month.
Over 36 lakh domestic consumers are benefiting from the subsidy, while the water sop caters to around 18 lakh people. “We have allocated R1,700 crore for the 50% power subsidy and free water scheme in Delhi’s 2016-17 budget. The subsidy would cost us R 1,400 crore, whereas, for water it would be around R 300 crore,” said power minister Satyendar Jain.
Initially, the government had planned to keep the subsidy till the CAG audit report was made public. However, the matter is pending with the Supreme Court and hence, the report couldn’t be used by the government.
“The subsidy is in line with what the actual tariffs in Delhi should be. Otherwise, the CAG report could have straightway reduced the tariffs. We are procuring power at a very high cost which is why the tariffs are high. Hence, subsidy is the only way of fulfilling the government’s promise,” a power department official said.