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Power tariff order fuels politics in Delhi, AAP claims credit, oppn say govt fooling people

As soon as the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission announced the revised power tariff order on Thursday, the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi was quick to claim credit for ‘no hike in tariffs’ for the third consecutive year.

delhi Updated: Sep 01, 2017 11:11 IST
Sweta Goswami
Sweta Goswami
Hindustan Times
Delhi power tariff,DERC,Delhi Chief Minister
Reducing power bills was the main poll plank of the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party. (Sonu Mehta/HT Photo)

As soon as the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission announced the revised power tariff order on Thursday, the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) in Delhi was quick to claim credit for ‘no hike in tariffs’ for the third consecutive year.

Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal tweeted: “Congratulations to the people of Delhi. All this has been possible because you chose an honest government.”

Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia said, “For three consecutive years, ever since AAP has come to power, there has been no hike in tariffs. We haven’t allowed any hike in any sector including commercial and industrial. Only a marginal increase has been levied to disburse pensions of 22,000 ex-employees of erstwhile Delhi Vidyut Board.”

The tariffs were not revised as such, but the new order levied a pension surcharge and revised fixed energy rates. (HT)

City’s power minister Satyendar Jain added that anybody opening a small shop or outlet in residential area and consuming up to 5 kW will not be charged commercial rates. “They will be charged domestic rates and this is going to benefit around five lakh people. For agriculture consumers the residential load has been increased from 10 kW to 20 KW,” he said.

For AAP, which has faced repeated electoral reverses in the Capital recently — barring the Bawana bypoll win, the tariff order came nothing short of as a shot in the arm since they stormed to power in 2015 over the promise of ‘Paani maaf, Bijli half’ (no water bills, half power bills).

Power was the focal point of AAP’s campaign against the Sheila Dikshit government in 2013 and 2015. Party convener Arvind Kejriwal had asked people not to pay their electricity bills and had himself climbed electricity polls to reconnect connections of those whose power supply had been snapped over non-payment of bills. He had also campaigned against then Sheila Dikshit government to get a CAG audit of discoms, charging corruption and collusion.

However, besides the claim of no revision in power tariffs in Delhi, the AAP’s chest thumping seemed hollow when it comes to ‘no raise’ in the power bills. The DERC may not have revised the tariffs but has levied an additional pension surcharge at 3.7% and raised fixed charges for those with a load in excess of 2KW. So, apart from the 3.7% surchage, the power bills will go up by Rs 5, Rs 40, Rs 75 and Rs 1500 and so on, depending on the sanctioned load.

The opposition leaders immediately shot back at AAP, saying the party was misleading the citizens of Delhi.

Leader of the Opposition in the Delhi Assembly and BJP MLA from Rohini, Vijender Gupta said the tariff order was eye wash. “It’s a sham. They have imposed a surcharge of 3.7% and increased fixed charges for more than 3 kw from 5% to 75%.

Delhi Pradesh Congress Committee chief and former Delhi power minister Ajay Maken tweeted, “AAP an expert in fooling! DERC announced Rs 1,057.31 crores additional burden on consumers for just one year & AAP claiming no tariff hike!.”

However, the new tariff plan will come as music to the ears of lower power consumers -- almost 70% of the city’s population, the middle to low income groups and those living in slums and unauthorized colonies, which form the core of the AAP’s support base.

According to the new tariff order, fixed charges of households having a sanctioned load of 1 kW has been halved from Rs 40 to Rs 20 and those having a sanctioned load of 2KW will pay the same fixed charges of Rs 40.

The AAP government also gives a 50% subsidy on power bills to those who consume up to 400 units the beneficiaries of which also fall in the same category.

Despite the fact that the tariffs were revised after two years at a time when distribution companies were demanding a hike over their spiraling regulatory assets, which are now pegged at Rs 9,400 crore, DERC member BP Singh told Hindustan Times that the power regulator still managed to keep the hike nominal this year.

The last time when tariffs were revised DERC had increased energy charges by up to 8%. In 2015, too, there was an increase of 6% but that was owing to the mandatory power purchase adjustment costs (PPACs).

DERC is a quasi-judicial body which fixes power tariffs in Delhi.

For over a year, BP Singh is the lone member of the Commission as the post of the chairperson and another member have been lying vacant ever since the High Court struck down all decisions taken by the AAP government which included appointment of the then DERC chief Krishna Saini. The government has been reluctant to re-appoint members to the commission as it says the matter is sub-judice in the Supreme Court.

First Published: Aug 31, 2017 23:57 IST