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Opposition to proposed power tariff hike

By Lalit K. Jha

NEW DELHI, JUNE 4. Even as the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) is working on various permutations and combinations to keep the imminent hike in power tariff within bearable limits, Delhiites and various organisations have pleaded with it not to effect a steep increase.

They have urged the DERC Chairman, V. K. Sood, to ensure that the power utilities were strict in checking wastage and pilferage during transmission and distribution of electricity. Contesting the annual revenue requirement of discoms, in particular reflecting huge revenue losses, they have accused the privately managed companies of indulging in extravagant expenditures in the name of professionalism.

The DERC had received as many as 75 public responses to annual revenue requirements of these power utilities, and held three public hearings in the run-up to determining tariff for the year 2004-2005. Though the new tariff should have been announced before March 31 so that it could have come into force from April 1, it is now expected only this month. Last year it was announced on June 26.

Objecting to the stand of the power utilities and the Delhi Government and the previous tariff orders of the DERC, the Vivekanand Puri Vikas Parishad and R.L.S. Choudhary were unanimous in their view that theft of electricity "should not be" considered an expenditure. "This penalises honest consumers as they have to pay on behalf of dishonest consumers," they said. Another person, S.N. Ghosh, argued that there should be no revision of tariff for three years.

Arguing that high level of commercial loss is due to the inefficiency of the discoms, the IMD Employees Co-operative Housing Society and Mukhija Associates suggested that tariff be based on actual cost of supplying power. The Jhilmil Industrialists Association suggested that there should be no tariff hike till the aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) loss was brought down to acceptable levels. Referring to the examples of income tax where a reduction in tax rates resulted in jump in revenue collection, the All India Plastic Industries Association called for lower power tariff. "This would make the power sector in Delhi not only self-sustainable, but also profitable," it said.

The Leader of Opposition in the Municipal Corporation of Delhi Standing Committee, Vijender Kumar Gupta, demanded the regulator that power tariff be linked with reliability of electricity supplied. "There should be accountability. For every load shedding, there should be provision to penalise the discoms. We as honest consumer expect a reliable and quality power supply," Mr. Gupta said.

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