Politics of power as BJP, Shiv Sena oppose tariff hike
The saffron alliance has taken on the government over the power tariff hike. The Shiv Sena has demanded that Reliance Infrastructure’s electricity distribution licence be revoked following the 7 per cent hike in its tariff and uniform tariff be introduced for the city’s 38 lakh consumers.india Updated: Sep 16, 2010 02:44 IST
The saffron alliance has taken on the government over the power tariff hike.
The Shiv Sena has demanded that Reliance Infrastructure’s electricity distribution licence be revoked following the 7 per cent hike in its tariff and uniform tariff be introduced for the city’s 38 lakh consumers.
The Bharatiya Janata Party will launch an agitation against the hike on Thursday, opposition leader in the Assembly Eknath Khadse said.
The Sena has given the state 15 days to stall the tariff hike and revoke RInfra’s licence, which is due for renewal in January 2011.
The Cabinet discussed the issue briefly on Wednesday. Energy minister Ajit Pawar said the state has done all it could and the issue of uniform tariff is pending with the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC).
The opposition wants the state to adopt the New Delhi model of uniform tariff. In New Delhi, the three power
suppliers operate in joint ventures with the New Delhi government.
The Delhi government gave a 10 per cent subsidy to power suppliers until last year. Now, it grants a subsidy of Re 1 per unit only to those who restrict usage to 200 units and those who use power for agriculture.
Industry experts say uniform tariff is possible in Mumbai only when the government gives substantial subsidy and allocates power to utilities according to their consumers’ needs.
In Mumbai, RInfra faces an energy deficit, while Tata and BEST have surplus power. State-controlled Mahavitaran has a small presence in the eastern suburbs.
Sena leader Subhash Desai, said: “The regulator should not allow the companies to make excessive profit. The Electricity Act, 2003, allows the regulator a profit of up to 16 per cent. We think the margin should be less when consumers are reeling under the burden.”
Desai submitted a memorandum to energy secretary Subrat Ratho on Wednesday. Pawar and Ratho were unavailable for comment.
The state had in July 2009 stalled the hike in RInfra’s tariff and directed the MERC to conduct a third-party probe into RInfra’s business model.
The MERC vacated the stay when the inquiry gave RInfra a clean chit. RInfra will now recover arrears of Rs 1,500 crore from 23 lakh consumers in phases.