Barely two weeks after he announced a breather for domestic electricity consumers by announcing a zero tariff hike for 2014-15 financial year, Haryana chief minister, Bhupinder Singh Hooda in a poll centric pacifier on Thursday announced a roll back of power tariff.
The double pacifier- no tariff hike for next fiscal and a roll back of current tariff – also seems to be heavily influenced by the emergence of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Haryana’s political horizon. The state goes to assembly polls in 2014. The AAP government in Delhi has announced to reduce the power tariff by 50 % ( upto 400 units a month) for domestic consumers.
The already subsidised farm sector, a big vote bank for the Congress, has been further pampered by announcing a 15 paisa per unit cut in power tariff. The concessions will be applicable from January 1, 2014.
Power minister, Capt Ajay Singh Yadav said that over 38 lakh domestic consumers and 5.65 lakh consumers would benefit from the decision. “The entire financial impact of the reduction in the rates for domestic and agriculture consumers would be borne by the state government from its budgetary resources,’’ the minister said.
The concessions mean that the ever-escalating power subsidy bill , a big drain on the state coffers will swell substantially.
In 2013-14 budget estimates, the rural electrification (RE) subsidy was pegged at Rs. 4,260 crore which was an increase of Rs. 388 crore from the 2012-2013 bill of Rs. 3,872 crore. The RE subsidy bill in Haryana has escalated enormously levels from a meagre Rs. 763 crore in 2001-02.
The power tariff for the domestic consumers consuming up to 500 units in a month has been rolled back. This means that domestic consumers will now have to pay the tariff fixed for 2012-13 financial year from January 2014 onwards till March 2015, since the two power distribution companies have proposed a zero hike in tariff for 2014-15 financial year before the power regulator- the Haryana Electricity Regulatory Commission(HERC).
“The Fuel Surcharge Adjustment (FSA) of 34 paise per unit levied with effect from Ju1y 1, 2013 has also been withdrawn with effect from January 1,2014 for the consumers consuming up to 500 units in a month 1000
The state government has also announced a major concession for the already pampered agriculture consumers by slashing the tariff for the agriculture consumers – from Rs 25 paise per unit to 10 paise per unit. The flat rate for tubewells has also been reduced to Rs. 15 per bhp each month from existing Rs. 25 per bhp each month.
HERC vhairman, RN Prasher when asked about the prudence of such concessions said that as power regulator, they have to ensure that revenue requirements of distribution companies is met. “As long as government agrees to provide subsidy for any class of consumer, we have no problems,’’ he said.