Delhi: Power hike withdrawn, parties fight for credit

  • HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Nov 15, 2014 01:14 IST

HT Correspondent

New Delhi: New Delhi’s power regulator on Friday withdrew a fuel surcharge on electricity bills it had imposed a day before with all major political parties in the Capital claiming credit for the rollback, ahead of polls likely in early 2015.

On Thursday, the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) had approved fuel surcharges ranging between 2.5% and 7% on power tariffs that would have caused a hike in electricity bills.

But within 24 hours, it junked the decision, saying various power generating companies supplying electricity to Delhi, including NTPC, hadn’t provided complete information on the cost incurred by them.

“We have asked for complete information and will reexamine the tariff cost again. Till then, we have decided to withdraw the hike,” said PD Sudhakar, DERC chairman.
The Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress, however, refused to buy the explanation, blaming the BJP for manipulating the regulator for electoral gains.

The Capital is looking at polls in late January or February next year with the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP battling a resurgent BJP to replicate its stunning debut last assembly elections, when it won 28 seats. The BJP is banking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charm and development record to carry it past the majority mark while the Congress is fighting to contain losses after being booted out of power in the December 2013 polls.

AAP leaders claimed the rollback happened because the BJP was spooked by public backlash and the novice party’s agitations. Senior AAP leader Yogendra Yadav also questioned the DERC’s credibility and autonomy.

“The BJP knows it can’t increase tariffs directly and tried doing so by a backdoor process. After the fare hike, we decided to agitate. The BJP got scared, which resulted in the roll back. We congratulate the people of Delhi for this,” said Yadav.

Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay, however, claimed credit for the move, saying his party had contributed to the rollback, along with the media and reiterated the saffron party’s poll promise of providing cheap power.

“We welcome the DERC’s move as it is an independent body and can review its decision. We have always promised to provide cheap power and water and we will continue to do so,” said Upadhyay.

The Congress also criticised the BJP for Thursday’s hike, with a senior party leader going on a hunger strike to demand an immediate withdrawal of the surcharge.

“The BJP put pressure on the power regulator to rollback the hike for the time being but after the elections they intend to increase tariffs massively. They are misleading the people,” said Arvinder Singh, Delhi Congress chief.

Power was a major issue in the 2013 assembly polls with both the AAP and the BJP promising to lower electricity bills by 50% and 30% respectively, if elected. In its 49-day stint, AAP slashed power bills by providing subsidies.

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