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Long after the rollback, there is no rollback

Staff Reporter


NEW DELHI: Despite the Delhi Government's much trumpeted decision not to pass on the burden of the controversial 10 per cent increase in electricity charges to consumers in the wake of a huge public outcry, citizens across the Capital continue to receive inflated electricity bills without the rollback reflected therein. This has left the consumers perplexed: to pay up or not?

Many consumers served by the Capital's two private power distribution companies -- BSES and NDPL - complained on Thursday that they had received the latest power bills complete with the 10 per cent increase in tariff as approved by the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC).

When they rang up the power distribution companies' helplines, they were told to deposit the entire amount mentioned in the bill as the discoms are yet to get a formal clearance from DERC for the subsidy to be given to the consumers. It was after a great deal of pressure from citizens' organisations and ruling Congress Party legislators that the Delhi Cabinet on August 31 approved the rollback of the 10 per cent increase for consumers of domestic power and 19.8 per cent for the farm sector.

Subsequently it was decided that the whole amount of Rs.187crores be shared equally by the Delhi Government and the discoms. It is now almost a week since that Cabinet decision was officially notified by the Government but the consumers are yet to get any relief.

`Awaiting communication'

Asked about it on Thursday, a BSES spokesperson said since the discoms were to share 5 per cent of the tariff hike approved by DERC, they were awaiting a formal communication from the regulator for a final arrangement.

"As it has already been decided that the increase will not be passed on to consumers, whatever excess money they have paid to us will be duly adjusted in their future bills," he added.

An NDPL spokesperson said they had already submitted to DERC for approval a proposal about their share of the 5 per cent rebate that they have to pass on to consumers and a clearance on the same was expected soon. "Till the time a formal approval is received from DERC, we have no option but to incorporate the hike into current bills. We have been informing our consumers that the excess money they have been depositing will be duly adjusted in future bills," he added.

However, the consumers are not amused. "We have only received the happy news of a rollback through the media so far. But that is not good enough,'' said a retired government servant, O. N. Puri of Sandesh Vihar in Pitampura. "While my bills in 2003 and 2004 were normally around Rs 6,000 per month, this year the amount shot up to Rs 16,000 in August. Will someone please explain how with the same gadgets and number of rooms, the bill can just treble?'' On the other side of Delhi, M. R. Venkatesan of Jai Sewa Apartments in Vasundhara Enclave, is equally puzzled. His monthly bill has gone up from around Rs.3,000 per month to over Rs.4,000 -- a 33 per cent increase.

And he too like other consumers is completely in the dark about when and how the excess amounts being charged by the discoms now would be refunded.

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