The government said the advice was only of DERC chairman Berjinder Singh and not the entire commission as signatures of two members were missing. Speaking to TOI, chief secretary Rakesh Mehta - who holds additional charge of the power department - confirmed the statutory advice has been rejected. A communication in this regard was sent to the commission earlier this week.
DERC which has been pushing for lower consumer tariff, accused the government of unnecessarily dragging its feet on the issue. "There are indications that the entire process of tariff determination will be postponed till September when chairman Berjinder Singh retires. The new commission that is formed then might decide to do away with tariff revision this year," said sources.
According to senior officials, the government consulted its law department and said the advice reflected the personal opinion of the chairman and was, thus, ‘invalid'. In the communication to DERC sent on Tuesday, the government said the protocol must be followed while sending the statutory advice under Section 92 of the Electricity Act. As per protocol, a meeting between the chairman and two members has to be called in which views can be expressed and votes taken. The minutes of the meeting are taken into account. Only then can the commission take a ‘neutral' stand on any opinion. "In this case, the chairman did not hold a meeting and sent the statutory advice without taking into consideration the views of the two members who are experts in the power sector," said an official.
While the chairman had stated in his letter to the government earlier this month that discoms showed a suplus of about Rs 3,500 crore in the next financial year, a section of the commission said the figure was ‘unrealistic' because it took into consideration ‘incorrect' commissioning dates of future power projects like Bawana, DVC and Aravalli. In fact, some commission members feel there could be a shortfall of up to Rs 3,500 crore in the next fiscal. "With delay in the commissioning of mega power plants, there will not be any surplus power for Delhi. Most of the revenue in Delhi's power system comes from selling surplus power," said a government official.
There is a debate on whether power tariff in Delhi should be lowered or not in all quarters - discoms, government and even within the commission. Commission members stick to their stand that lower tariffs might not be in the best interests of the city from a larger perspective while the chairman says that numbers show discoms making profit - an advantage that must be passed on to consumers. The letter sent to the government by chairman Berjinder Singh on July 6 informs that the statutory advice has not been signed by the two members as they have "been sitting on the file for two months".
The Delhi government had sought DERC's statutory advice on power tariff a day before the commission was to announce the revised tariff order on May 4.
Source- Times of India