Delhi govt, LG office spar over power subsidy in city
An official requesting anonymity said the LG has never even suggested, leave apart asking the AAP government to withdraw subsidies.
A war of words between the Delhi government and the office of the lieutenant governor escalated on Saturday with chief minister Arvind Kejriwal alleging “a conspiracy” to discontinue Delhi’s free electricity scheme, an accusation the LG’s office rubbished as misleading and false.
The chief minister’s comment came against the backdrop of power minister Atishi’s statement in the Delhi assembly on Friday that senior power department officials were trying to block the free power scheme in the Capital in alleged connivance with the lieutenant governor VK Saxena’s office.
“Then they say that Kejriwal fights a lot. A conspiracy is being hatched to shut down Delhi’s free electricity. But we will never let their conspiracy succeed. Kejriwal will stand like a rock to protect the rights of the people of Delhi. LG sir, later please don’t say that the limits are being breached,” Kejriwal tweeted, while quoting a tweet by Atishi in which she attacked the LG office.
An official in the LG office said the AAP government and its functionaries were making “baseless, false and misleading statements”. “The LG has never even suggested, leave apart asking the AAP government to withdraw subsidies. LG has repeatedly asked for subsidy to be given to the deserving poor people, rather than to private power companies,” the official said, asking not to be named.
Delhi government provides up to 200 units power free every month to consumers, and a 50% subsidy to consumers using up to 400 units electricity every month. Last year, the AAP government launched an opt-in scheme under which only those who seek the discount will get it. “Around 4.8 million consumers have already opted in for the power subsidy,” the official said.
The tussle over power subsidy broke out on March 10 after LG asked chief secretary Naresh Kumar to direct the power department to place the statutory advice of the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) – which recommended that subsidy should be continued for only consumers with up to 5KV sanctioned load -- before the council of ministers.
The DERC had argued that capping the power subsidy on the basis of the load factor would cover nearly 95% of the total consumers who are availing subsidies, and could have saved the exchequer ₹200 crore per year.
The AAP government called it an attempt to discontinue the power subsidy, and claimed that the DERC had later withdrawn its advice because it was beyond its mandate to advise the government on power subsidy.
The official in the LG office, however, said, “Power minister Atishi can very well ask the CM for a copy of the report instead of making uninformed and false statements against LG. The CM, instead of attacking LG, could see the report, take notice of the violations by the then power minister and rectify it through a Cabinet meeting. It will be better if the government stops misleading people on the basis of the withdrawn DERC orders.”