Free power plan poses challenge for Karnataka Congress | Bengaluru - Hindustan Times

Free power plan poses challenge for Karnataka Congress

By, Bengaluru
May 25, 2023 12:56 AM IST

The Congress party has been facing troubles after giving the in-principle approval to its poll promise of providing 200 units of free electricity.

Days after the Congress party gave the in-principle approval to its poll promise of providing 200 units of free electricity, incidents have been reported across the state where people have refused to pay electricity bills. Some farmers in Veerapur village near Kittur in Belagavi district had refused to pay electricity bills saying that they will let the state government do it.

Congress faces problems after not being able to completing its poll promise after first cabinet meeting (AFP)
Congress faces problems after not being able to completing its poll promise after first cabinet meeting (AFP)

When a Gulbarga Electricity Supply Company Limited (GESCOM) bill collector was asked to go back when he asked the villagers to pay their bills. Some farmers, Murigeppa Hanumantappa and Basanagouda Basarikod, told him that they will not pay their light bills and said that the state government will do it on their behalf. Soon, other residents of the village and some women joined the group, people familiar with the matter said.

In another incident, a man was arrested on Wednesday after he attacked a GESCOM employee in Koppal district of Karnataka. Chandrashekar Hiremat, a resident of Kukanapalli in Koppal abused and attacked Manjunath when he asked the former to pay the electricity bill.

Police, however, clarified that the alternation was not over the poll promise but the man’s refusal to pay pending bills. Hiremat had not cleared his dues adding up to 9,990 for the past 6 months.

Former chief minister HD Kumaraswamy said that he would wait for the second cabinet meeting and if the five schemes are not brought into effect, he would give a call to people to stop paying electricity bills.

Speaking to reporters at Vidhana Soudha after taking the oath of office as an MLA, Kumaraswamy said Congress leaders have failed to keep their promise.

“Congress has promised the people of the state that they will implement all five schemes during the first cabinet meeting. They have only given approval and it is yet to be implemented. First, they said the schemes would be applicable to all and now they are saying they are framing rules,” he said.

“I will wait for the second cabinet meeting and even after that, if they fail to implement the five schemes, I am planning to appeal to my workers and the people of the state not to pay the electricity bill for 200 units. I am also setting up an office in every taluk to help people who get tortured for not paying the bill,” Kumaraswamy added.

The JD(S) leader also questioned Congress for putting conditions on giving money to unemployed graduates in the state. “During the campaign, they said, every unemployed graduate would get 3,000 per month and now, they are saying it is applicable only to students who have passed out this year. Congress leaders could have said this before the elections. During campaigning, they announced these schemes to everyone and now they are saying it cannot be given to people walking on roads,” the former CM said.

Reacting to Kumaraswamy’s statement, Bengaluru Rural Congress MP DK Suresh said five ‘guarantees’ would be implemented soon. “All I want to say is have patience.”

Senior officials of the government said as per the initial estimates, there are over 1 crore beneficiaries who have electricity consumption of less than 200 units. According to a senior IAS officer, who didn’t want to be named, the government already paying a subsidy amount of 14,508 crore per annum for various schemes for the farmers. “The average cost of power supply is 9.12. The government will have to give 3848 MU of power free to domestic consumers every month, which will cost them 3,509 crore per month, and 42,108 crore annually,” said the officer.

While similar schemes are in place in Punjab and New Delhi, according to the officer, the higher population in Karnataka would pose a challenge to the government. Even though the government had said it would come with a plan for implementing the schemes at the earliest, no announcements were made during the three-day session of the assembly.

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