High drama was witnessed at a public hearing of the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission (JERC) after the UT electricity department proposed a 32% hike in power tariff for the next fiscal with residents strongly objecting to the move. The move, if accepted, would affect more than 2 lakh households and the JERC is to take a call on the matter within a month.
A strong objection to the proposal came from Air Marshal Ranjit Singh (retd) who said the department had failed to recover its dues from defaulters and yet was trying to charge more from users. “The administration has not installed pre-paid meters even three years after the JERC ordered the department to provide these within six months. Even power thefts continue unabated and underground cabling has been a non-starter,” he said.
JERC chairman SK Chaturvedi said, “We have proposed that the UT electricity department should be corporatised for better functioning.” The chairman added he would take up the issue with new UT adviser Parimal Rai.
Protesting against the move, UT Powermen Union general secretary Gopal Dutt Joshi said, “If the UT electricity department is privatised, residents will face power shortage. Tariffs will double.”
“The department, after getting an independent entity will have to generate resources on its own for salaries, pension, procuring additional power. It will not get funds from the government,” said sources.
Dept employees also raise issues
The UT electricity employees also highlighted their problems with the main grouse being that they were short-staffed.
“Two people are taking the burden of six people,” an employee said.
‘Will study objections’
Chaturvedi said he would study the objections submitted and will take a decision after reviewing them.
Tension at gathering
During the public hearing some residents were critical of the functioining of the electricity department’s consumer forum. Forum chairman R K Arora while listening to the grievances said, “You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.”
At this, agitated residents protested and Arora later apologised for his remark.
The president of Industrial Area Tenants Association Sanjeev Sagar, who had raised the issue, threatened to move court against the remark.