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Sunday, Aug 18, 2019

Stiff hike in Bihar power tariff; Nitish says subsidy cut consumer burden

A sharp rise in power tariff kicks in for all categories of consumers in Bihar from Saturday, even after the state government subsidized the rates.

india Updated: Mar 31, 2017 19:16 IST
Anirban Guha Roy
Anirban Guha Roy
Hindustan Times, Patna
Chief minister Nitish Kumar announced a revision of power tariff for all categories of consumers in Bihar.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar announced a revision of power tariff for all categories of consumers in Bihar. (HT file photo)

Power consumers in the state capital will have to pay a sharply higher tariff for per unit electricity consumed and the rate charged from them will be higher than the revised rate of electricity in rural areas of Bihar, effective Saturday, April 1.

The hike in power tariff was as high as 66.66% in case of urban domestic consumers, in the first slab of up to 100 units, that is, from Rs 3 per unit at present, to Rs 5 per unit with effect from Saturday.

Announcing the upwardly revised power tariff, in the state assembly on Friday, chief minister Nitish Kumar also made it clear that electricity consumed for agricultural purposes and by BPL category consumers, would attract the lowest tariff.

The revised power tariff could have been even higher than the rates announced but for a subsidy component, which, Kumar said, would be directly transferred to consumers and be reflected in their power bills in bold letters, as part of the power reforms.

“We will be giving a subsidy of Rs 2,952 crore to power consumers in the next financial year, which is higher than the Rs 2,704 crore subsidy given this year. Mentioning the subsidy amount in the electricity bills given to consumers will show how much the government is paying out of their power bills”, the chief minister said.

This step would also help in monitoring the performance of power companies and assess the aggregate technical and commercial loss( AT&C) losses, he added. 

As per the revised rate, an urban domestic power consumer would have to pay Rs 5 per unit of electricity, as against Rs 3 per unit at present, for the first 100 units consumed, a hike of 66% in the first slab. 

This revised rate carries a subsidy of Rs 1.48, on the tariff fixed by the Bihar Electricity Regulatory Commission (BERC), which had proposed Rs 6.45 as per unit rate for urban areas and an overall hike in power tariff by 55% for different categories of consumers, from farms to industrial units.

This had led to a big outcry, with the opposition BJP calling it ‘exorbitant’ and ‘unrealistic’. 

Nonetheless, the hike in the power rate would make a big hole in the pockets of those running air-conditioners and other electrical appliances in their homes in Patna and other cities, as the per unit rate would go up further in higher electricity consumption slabs like 100-200 units, 200-300 units and 300 and above units. 

As per the revised rates, an urban domestic consumer will have to pay an estimated Rs 500 or more for the first 100 units while those having a higher load would have to shell out much more.

The chief minister, however, pointed out even the enhanced per unit power rate for urban consumers, rural consumers, farming activity and industrial units, was less than the per unit power tariff in West Bengal and UP.

He said the government had asked BERC to calculate the power tariff for different categories of consumers minus subsidy given to power companies, as part of a strategy to initiate power reforms. 

Kumar also highlighted the fact that the power availability target for 2017-18 had been fixed at 30,740 million unit, a rise of 23% over this year’s availability, indicating a growth in the state’s base of power subscribers. 

The tariff hike has been quite substantial even for rural consumers and industrial users. As per the new rate, rural domestic consumers would have pay Rs 3.35 per unit, with a subsidy component of Rs 3.10. 

For non-domestic (rural) consumers, the rate per unit has been fixed at Rs 4.33, post deduction of subsidy of Rs 2.50, while non-domestic (urban) consumers will have to pay Rs 7.62 per unit after reduction of 40 paise as subsidy, as against the BERC recommended rate of Rs 8.02. 

Consumers in BPL category will have to pay Rs 2.50 paise per unit with subsidy of Rs 3.58 paise, as against BERC rate of Rs 6.08, while connections for agriculture and irrigation would cost Rs 1.50 paise, with a subsidy of Rs 4.29, the highest subsidy component among all categories of consumers.

Industrial connections for different categories will vary from Rs 8.34 to Rs 5.26 per unit, with a subsidy component ranging from 25 paise to 50 paise.

First Published: Mar 31, 2017 19:16 IST

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