The Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission on 14-11-2014 rolled back the up to 7% power tariff hike cleared for the national capital, saying the power generating companies have not submitted details regarding fuel cost. The Aam Aadmi Party and the Congress, however, refused to buy the explanation, blaming the BJP for manipulating the regulator for electoral gains.
DERC chairman PD Sudhakar said that the Commission has sought necessary information from the generating companies, including NTPC, and the revised orders for tariff revision will be taken in the next two to three weeks.
Sudhakar, however, clarified that the decision to roll back power tariff, a politically sensitive issue, was not influenced by the impending Assembly elections in Delhi.
On 13-11-2014, the regulator had approved 'power purchase cost adjustment charges' (PPAC) to the tune of 7% for BSES Yamuna, 4.5% for BSES Rajdhani and 2.5% for Tata Power Delhi Distribution. The rise would have affected 4.8 million power consumers in the city for next three months starting November 15.
"It has now been brought to the notice of the Commission that various generators, including NTPC, supplying power to Delhi, have provided only part of the information regarding pricing of fuel and billing of power generated at their stations. Additional information has been called for and is yet to be submitted, which will have direct bearing on the PPAC claims," read the letter from the commission to the distribution companies (discoms).
An executive with one of the discoms said, "NTPC, which meets half of Delhi's close to 6,000 MW electricity requirement, started charging 13% to 30% more price for power in less than a year, depending on its generating stations. However, it is not sharing the desired details of its fuel costs regularly. It is also surprising that the regulator took note of this irregularity only when the state is gearing up for the Assembly election.
"The Capital is looking at polls in late January or February next year with the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP battling a resurgent BJP to replicate its stunning debut last assembly elections, when it won 28 seats. The BJP is banking on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's charm and development record to carry it past the majority mark while the Congress is fighting to contain losses after being booted out of power in the December 2013 polls.
AAP leaders claimed the rollback happened because the BJP was spooked by public backlash and the novice party's agitations. Senior AAP leader Yogendra Yadav also questioned the DERC's credibility and autonomy.
"The BJP knows it can't increase tariffs directly and tried doing so by a backdoor process. After the fare hike, we decided to agitate. The BJP got scared, which resulted in the roll back. We congratulate the people of Delhi for this," said Yadav.
Delhi BJP chief Satish Upadhyay, however, claimed credit for the move, saying his party had contributed to the rollback, along with the media and reiterated the saffron party's poll promise of providing cheap power.
"We welcome the DERC's move as it is an independent body and can review its decision. We have always promised to provide cheap power and water and we will continue to do so," said Upadhyay.
The Congress also criticised the BJP for Thursday's hike, with a senior party leader going on a hunger strike to demand an immediate withdrawal of the surcharge.
"The BJP put pressure on the power regulator to rollback the hike for the time being but after the elections they intend to increase tariffs massively. They are misleading the people," said Arvinder Singh, Delhi Congress chief.
Power was a major issue in the 2013 assembly polls with both the AAP and the BJP promising to lower electricity bills by 50% and 30% respectively, if elected. In its 49-day stint, AAP slashed power bills by providing subsidies.