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HC adjourns hearing in power tariff case

Correspondent

CUTTACK: While the hearing on merit and maintainability of a PIL challenging the proposed power tariff hike by the Orissa Electricity Regulatory Authority (OERC) was yet again adjourned to July 5, the High Court on Wednesday extended the interim stay on collection of hiked tariff from domestic consumers till that date.

Division Bench of Justices B P Das and B K Mishra also on the day could not take up the petition filed by the OERC seeking vacation of the March 31 interim stay, when the petitioner counsel Kedar Jena vehemently objected the OERC counsel's oral submission on the matter. Jena said OERC was a quasi-judicial regulatory body but here it was acting as an agent of the private power distribution companies pleading to vacate the stay that has been granted as a relief to lakhs of electricity consumers.

The High Court had earlier on March 31 restrained the distribution companies from collecting the hiked tariff as was proposed by the OERC. Subsequently, however, the stay was only limited to domestic consumers when the High Court modified its March 31 interim order on June 22. But the OERC moved the High Court once again pleading to vacate the entire stay order stating that the Commission would face insurmountable difficulties in tariff setting in future if the stay order is allowed to continue further.

The OERC in its petition had maintained that due to the present interim stay on hiked tariff collection, the under-recovery by the distribution companies is mounting at the rate of Rs 18.6 crore per month and it would severely affect the budget of the companies.

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