The Uttar Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (UPERC) had cited the absence of a full member board for not taking up petitions pertaining to power tariff revision. But in a surprising move, the Commission set aside this reason and took up the petitions of some industrialists regarding their private profitability issues on 29-08-2013.
The UPERC hearing has stirred a controversy with its secretary objecting to it. UPERC secretary AK Srivastava termed the Thursday hearing as "discriminating with previous petitions" which sought review of the power tariff. The tariff was raised by about 30-40%, mainly for domestic consumers, in June.
The UPERC has been without a full time chairman and a member for nearly eight and three months respectively. In fact, this was the key reason cited by the lone member, Meenakshi Singh, for not taking up petitions pertaining to tariff hike and public grievances. Instead, Singh had suggested that such issues be "put before the next Commission", which has a chairman and at least two members.
But on Thursday, UPERC held the hearing of at least three industrialists -- Indian Glycols (for sale of 8MW of biomass power to UP Power Corporation Limited), Narain Infra-heights Pvt Ltd (power purchase agreement) and Dwarikesh Sugar Mills (for surcharge on outstanding dues over UPPCL).
The attendance sheet of the meeting also had the name of controversial chartered accountant Bhushan Rastogi, who, after helping the UPPCL in framing the power tariff, endorsed it at the UPERC. Rastogi represented as a consultant, this time of UP Rajya Vidyut Utpadan Nigam (UPRVUNL), which petitioned the Commission for "power tariff true up".
True up means actualising the tariff in accordance with the generation capability besides computing it with the previous records.
While Meenakshi Singh was unavailable for comment, sources said she cited Section 93 of the Electricity Act which states that "no act or proceedings of the appropriate commission shall be questioned or shall be invalidated merely on the ground of existence of any vacancy or defect in the constitution of the appropriate commission". Section 92(3) of the Act says that all questions which come up before any meeting of the appropriate commission shall be decided by a majority of votes of the Members present and the Electricity Act, 2003.
"This is certainly the case of discrimination with the consumers. On various accounts, the petitions were dismissed saying that the quorum was not complete. But when it comes to rich industrialists, the Commission takes a stand and calls a meeting," said UP Rajya Vidyut Upbhogta Parishad president AK Verma.