To avoid any political onslaught during the Lok Sabha polls earlier and the coming assembly session now, the SAD-BJP government has still not replied to the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) on tariff revision for the fiscal 2014-15. This leaves the issue open, and means that as and when the tariff is hiked and becomes effective as per rules from April 1 last, consumers will be burdened with payment of arrears.
The Punjab State Power Corporation Limited (PSPCL) had filed a petition in December last listing its revenue gap and anticipating 10-15% tariff hike. The new tariff order has to be implemented from April 1, 2014. But the reply from the government — sought particularly on free power provided to certain sections — is necessary for finalising it. In the last fiscal, the tariff order was announced in first week of April (2013), hiking prices by 9%.
In its petition, the PSPCL projected a revenue gap of Rs. 2,595.3 crore for 2014-15 in its annual revenue requirement (ARR), and thus hoping for the 10-15% tariff hike to cover the difference. The regulator then sought a commitment from the government over the subsidy to the PSPCL in lieu of free power to the farm sector and Schedule Caste consumers living below poverty line.
“Two reminders have been posted to the state government to seek their commitment over the subsidy, but there is no response. Earlier, it was a delaying tactic to halt the tariff hike before the Lok Sabha polls, and now the government wants to sail through the assembly session without any din over a hike,” said an official of regulatory commission. The assembly’s budget session stars on July 15.
When the PSERC chairperson Romila Dubey was contacted, she avoided direct answers and said, “Wait for another 15 days.” State power secretary Anirudh Tiwari could not be contacted.