A public hearing to determine power tariff in Delhi turned out a political turf war, with the BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) claiming credit for raising the issue and cornering the Congress government in the Capital.
The Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) held the hearing on Monday. It was attended by BJP's Delhi chief Vijay Goel and AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal. Accusing the Sheila Dikshit government of giving undue benefits to the power discoms, both the leaders lambasted the regulator for allegedly working in connivance with the Delhi government.
Both Kejriwal and Goel demanded that unless the CAG audited discoms' accounts, there should be no hike in tariff.
"The (CAG) audit should be done immediately. If you claim to have recommended it earlier then why don't you pass an order that there will be no tariff revision unless an audit is conducted. If discoms refuse to get the audit done then why don't you cancel their licence? If residents don't pay their bills their electricity connections are disconnected. Why a similar action is not taken against discoms?" asked Kejriwal.
Terming the hearing a complete 'farce', he said the whole episode had been scripted to help the ruling party in view of the assembly elections. "The DERC will not clear a substantial hike in power tariffs, which will be followed by a subsidy cushion by the Delhi government to win over the Delhiites," said Kejriwal.
Kejriwal, who sat through the entire first half of the hearing, tried to corner Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit for "ignoring the masses". He said the CM has always rushed to the Centre, seeking bailout packages for the discoms.
DERC chairman and members, who had so far only been listening to the participants, started answering questions when Kejriwal started his submission.
"When the aam aadmi says that he is unable to pay the hefty power bills, our CM is quick to point out that they should stop using the ACs and use coolers instead. But for discoms, she is ready to go to any extent to help them out," he added.
BJP's Goel too was critical of the DERC and demanded CAG audit. "If you (DERC) are ready for the audit and the Delhi government claims they too want it then where is the problem? Why isn't it being done? In public hearings, even discoms have claimed that they are open to audit, so why have they challenged it in the court?" said Goel.
He demanded uniform tariff for the entire city. "Why can't a 'one city one tariff' policy be implemented in Delhi. Why do people living in New Delhi get cheaper power than those living in other areas? Why is DERC sitting on the amendments of performance standards, suggesting stricter penalties for discoms? Particularly those issues that directly affect the quality of power and 24X7 supply," alleged Goel, who was present for about half an hour during the second half of the hearing.