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Home News Power Sector News PSERC rejects PSEB proposal for deferment of tariff hike

PSERC rejects PSEB proposal for deferment of tariff hike

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PSEBIn an embarrassment to the Akali-BJP government, the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) has dismissed the PSEB’s petition seeking deferment of the tariff hike announced in September. This means that now it is up to the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) to decide on whether to keep ally BJP in good humour by committing more subsidy to the Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB).

The BJP is demanding that the government also bear the burden of the nearly Rs 800 crore hike on domestic, commercial and industrial consumers as it does for the farm sector. The government has this year committed an additional Rs 542 crore to compensate the board for hike in tariffs of agricultural pumpsets (AP) category, taking the total power subsidy bill of the state this year to Rs 3142 crore.

While the standoff between the allies on the issue continues, the commission in its order dated January 1, 2010, has stated that the PSEB — which had filed the petition on the government’s behalf — was given ample opportunity to specify the provision of law which allows the commission to consider deferment of the tariff hike announced in September. “However, the board has been unable to do so, which leaves the commission with no option but to turn down the petition of the board and it therefore stands dismissed,” says the order.

Citing poor fiscal health of the state, the SAD has expressed its inability to foot more power subsidy. After two rounds of discussions with state unit leaders, Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal also met Central leaders of the BJP in New Delhi. However, the BJP has not given up its strong posturing for parity in treatment of respective vote-banks. “After the 2009 tariff order was implemented in September, the hiked bills being issued to consumers also carry arrears from April to August which are being recovered in equal installments. The power bills of many industrial and commercial users have jumped substantially while farmers continue to enjoy unaccounted free power,” the party leaders contend.

However, it is not just ally Akali Dal which sees the BJP demand as unjustified. “Productive activities such as agriculture are subsidised in many parts of the world. So if Punjab foots power subsidy for farm sector it should not be seen as unjustifiable. In fact, since the state bears this subsidy burden for producing foodgrain for the Central pool, the Centre which should share the cost,” say farm experts.

Source - Indian Express

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