Ruling party MLAs cornered their own minister in the assembly on Monday over privatisation of electricity distribution in Kota.
“Maximum power consumption was recorded in June last year, and revenue assessment was ₹59.34 crore; minimum consumption was there in November, but then the revenue assessment was ₹67 crore, which should had been 20% less,” BJP MLA Prahlad Gunjal said during the question hour.
The ongoing assembly session, an extension of the budget meet, was called mainly to clear GST (goods and service tax) and other bills.
“The private firm that got the franchise of electricity distribution has not recruited staff properly, does not take meter reading, and sends inflated bills leading to resentment among people,” Gunjal said.
Bhawani Singh Rajawat, BJP MLA from Laadpura (Kota), also raised objections to privatisation of power distribution.
“We had urged the government not to privatise it. There are places in the state where transmission and distribution (T&D) losses are 80%; Kota was generating good revenue but it is unfortunate that after power distribution was handed over to the private company, people are left to be looted,” Rajawat said.
“The situation is worrisome; if a poor man even lights two bulbs, the bill is coming up to ₹10,000; and power cut is there for six hours.”
Rajawat said, “We were told that T&D losses will decrease, thefts will be curbed; and 24X7 power supply will be ensured, but nothing of the sort happened.”
He added, “When the management was with Vidyut Vitran Nigam, we used to call executive engineers to set right faults. Who is now responsible in this company; whom should we call? People are resented and Kota is frequently plunging into darkness.”
He demanded that the decision be reconsidered and management be given to Nigam.
Replying to charges, state energy minister Pushpendra Singh Ranawat said T&D losses decreased and revenue increased after the management was given to the private firm.
He said the franchise was given in September last year, and the regulatory commission approved 9% tariff hike, the result of which was seen in bills.
“In Kota city, T&D losses were 29% last year, which has come down to 14%. A billing of ₹70 crore was done from which ₹59.34 crore was generated; it is estimated that the state will receive ₹915 crore profit in 20 years.”
Ranawat assured the House that government has control over the firm, which is working in India for last 100 years. “If complaints of increased tariff are received, they will be addressed.”
In another question, Jagdish Narayan, BJP MLA from Jamwa Ramgarh, expressed his dissatisfaction over industry minister Rajpal Singh’s reply on setting up of industries in his constituency. The MLA asked, “Does the government intend to set up industries to deal with increasing unemployment?” Singh said, “The government does not set up industries, but provides positive environment through policies.”
House adjourned over Ambedkar remarks
Congress and ruling party MLAs opposed BJP MLA Vijay Bansal’s alleged remark that Bhim Rao Ambedkar was not the architect of the constitution, and demanded an apology.
Looking to the MLAs’ resentment, parliamentary affairs minister Rajendra Rathore apologised. Not satisfied, opposition members entered the well, and the House was adjourned for 15 minutes. The opposition continued protest after the House resumed. The speaker directed Rathore to take action if anything wrong has been said against Ambedkar.
GST Bill tabled
The goods and service tax (GST) bill and a dozen others related to universities were tabled in the House. A special workshop on GST was also conducted for members.
New MLA takes oath
Shobha Rani Khushwa, newly elected BJP MLA from Dholpur, took oath. She was elected in the recent by-poll. Before entering the assembly, she performed puja at the stairs.