When it comes to electricity, the people of Delhi â€”for once â€” seem satisfied with the present state of affairs. Thanks to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) government for offering 'tangible' benefits to them with its 50 per cent subsidy on power bills, Delhiites aren't complaining, even as its other poll promises in this sector are yet to take off.
Sarojini Devi, 61, who resides in East Delhi's Mayur Vihar Extension with her daughter and granddaughter calls the AAP government's power subsidy a "masterstroke". When questioned about the party's other promises, which remain unfulfilled, she says, "People are not bothered about other things. What matters to us is how our expenditures are lessened at the end of the month and this government has struck a chord by doing just that. After four years of continuous hikes, the power tariffs in 2015 did not increase."
In summers her bills have come down to Rs. 1,300 from Rs. 2,000, whereas, in winters she now pays Rs. 600 instead of Rs. 800.
Like Ms. Devi, who constitutes the 85-90 per cent of Delhi's total power consumers benefiting from the scheme, others have similar stories. On top of that, AAP gained more support from the people due to fewer power outages last summer. While the credit for this largely goes to the government for acting stern on the distribution companies by initiating a system of penalising them for unscheduled cuts, it is also a matter of chance as the peak power demand remained fairly low compared to previous summers. Instead of the expected peak power demand of 6,000 MW in 2015, the maximum consumption was recorded at 5,846 MW as against 5,925 MW in 2014.
A year after AAP took charge of the Delhi government, a glance at its five-point 'Action-Plan' in the power sector reveals that it has taken small steps in four of its promises. The party's manifesto promised reduction of electricity bills by half, CAG audit of power discoms, Delhi's own power plant, introduction of competition among discoms and Delhi as a "Solar City".
While the first one was fulfilled within 11 days of the party coming to power, the CAG audit of power discoms is stuck in the Supreme Court even as everyone had a peak at the report, which suggests irregularities worth Rs. 8,000 crore on the part of the discoms.
However, there are two promises that AAP seems to have had clarity only after it assumed power. Power Minister Satyendar Jain said the party had assumed Delhi was a power deficit city until it assumed office, with its meteorite rise by winning 67 of the 70 Assembly seats in the elections. "Once we came to power, we were informed Delhi has a power surplus and hence, we decided to surrender 2,255 MW to the Centre," he said.
But, he maintained that the government has no plans to scrap the idea of Delhi's own power plant as it is a long-term proposal, which would take about five years to get ready. The party seems positive about winning the 2020 Assembly elections as well. "We would bid in the next auction for coal block allocation whenever the Centre announces it. It is important as the power demand is only going to increase," he said.
The manifesto also mentions bringing more efficiency in the Rajghat and Bawana power plants. While the former is shut due to environment issues, the latter continues to remain defunct for want of gas.
The other promise, the complexity of which the AAP again realised after forming the government, is that of bringing competition among discoms. A senior official in the government said, "For implementing this, the Electricity Act, 2003 needs to be amended by the Centre. The Modi government is actively working towards this. So once things take shape, we shall surely support it."
Meanwhile, the government's promise of making Delhi a Solar City is gradually taking shape with sources telling The Hindu that the Solar Policy for the Capital is likely to be notified soon.
Besides, MNRE has also taken up converting the defunct Indraprastha power station into a 5 MW plant that would power the Delhi Secretariat.
Source- The Hindu