The AAP government has decided to seek help of former Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) chairman Brijender Singh to resolve the power subsidy issue. Mr Singh, who met chief minister Arvind Kejriwal at his office, is reported to have discussed the problems in the electricity sector and also how electricity tariff could be reduced.
The cash-strapped city administration will have to bear an additional burden of Rs 1,400 crore if electricity tariff is slashed by 50 per cent for consumers using up to 400 units of electricity each month. On Thursday, power department officials had made a detailed presentation to Mr Kejriwal regarding the power availability, summer action plan and burden of the power subsidy on the state exchequer.
Sources said that Mr Kejriwal had called Mr Singh to his Delhi Secretariat office to discuss the issues related to the power sector. The meeting between the two lasted for an hour. Mr Singh is said to have advised Mr Kejriwal during his earlier 49-day stint as the city CM.
Mr Singh is said to have told Mr Kejriwal that power tariff being raised by discoms was totally unfair and unnecessary. If the DERC decides to increase power tariff and power purchase charges, the amount of subsidy may go up to Rs 2,000 crore.
The issue of reducing power tariff by 50 per cent for domestic consumers is a challenging job before the government in view of poor revenue collections. A team of experts in the government is working round-the-clock to find out a way to reduce power tariff by half. A power department official said that they have provided each detail related to power sector to the chief minister.
There was a major controversy in 2010 after the Delhi government's power department wrote a letter to the then DERC chairman Brijender Singh to stop issuing the order to reduce power tariff by 23 per cent. Citing an April 2010 draft order by former DERC chairman, Mr Singh stated that power distribution companies would make a profit of '3,577 crore and henceforth tariff should be reduced by 23 per cent. Mr Singh retired in September 2010 and his successor rejected his draft order.
According to Mr Singh's assessment during 2010, every year the discoms which supply electricity in Delhi filed petitions to the DERC asking for 40 to 60 per cent increase in tariff. Congress leader Ajay Maken, who was the power minister when electricity was privatised in 2002, had told Mr Singh that for the first two years tariff would increase and then it would remain stable for three years, followed by a decline in the subsequent years.
Source- Asian Age