As the Aam Aadmi Party government struggles to cope with pressure from private power distribution companies and another tariff hike, sources said the government could consider another subsidy. Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had announced a 50 per cent cut in subsidy in slabs upto 400 units days after assuming power.
Sources in the power industry believe that the major issue to deal with is the shortfall of cash in the system. However, according to Kejriwal, it was "blackmail" by private discoms. He even announced that the Delhi government would "cancel licences" of the discoms if they carried out power cuts across the city.
Meanwhile, the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) served notices of power suspension from February 11 to the two BSES discoms on payment related issues.
On Saturday, Kejriwal said the CAG audit into the finances of the discoms would reveal the truth. "Power companies claim that they do not have money, but where has their money gone? The CAG is trying to find their money and the truth will come out in the CAG's report. After the CAG's report, we will get to know whether they are really facing a financial crisis," Kejriwal said.
A senior government official said another power subsidy, to tide the recent tariff hike, was possible. The Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) on Friday announced a 6 per cent (BRPL), 7 per cent (NDPL), and 8 per cent (BYPL) hike in power tariff surcharge.
"The government is not involved in power tariffs. But we are considering another subsidy to help domestic consumers," a source said.
Power department sources also said power regulator, DERC, was the only authority that had the power to cancel licences. "The regulator is an absolutely independent body, and the government cannot influence it. It is also between the DERC and the discoms to arrange the money to pay NTPC in the next 10 days. The DERC, which issues the licences to the discoms, also has the responsibility to ensure quality supply of power," a senior power department official said.
Former power secretary Shakti Sinha said the government has no power to cancel the licences of the discoms, which is a very long drawn process.
"The government may recommend such a thing to the regulator, but it does not mean much. Cancellation of licence is a very long process. The regulator has to present the various points on which the discoms failed. The discoms can also present a case on points where the government has failed in the partnership," Sinha said.
Source- Indian Express