Power tariff hiked in Uttar Pradesh, opposition cries foul
Lucknow: Giving a shock to power consumers, the UP Electricity Regulatory Commission (UPERC) on Thursday announced hike in power tariff barely a day after the civic polls concluded in the state, drawing flak from the opposition parties. The average hike for domestic consumers, to be implemented soon, is 12%.
UPERC chairman S.K. Agarwal told a press conference in Lucknow that the electricity tariff for urban domestic electricity consumers has been raised by 9%.
For the metered rural domestic consumers, the tariff has been hiked to Rs3 per unit for first 100 units and Rs4.50 per unit beyond that. The order encourages consumers to shift to metered connections, Agarwal said.
Admitting that the hike for rural consumers was hefty, he said it was because the rates in the past have been very low. “We have for the first time brought this change,” he said.
Principal secretary power, and chairman of UP Power Corporation Alok Kumar later said urban poor who consume up to 100 units will also have to pay at the rate of Rs3 per unit.
Justifying the hike, Kumar said on studying the power rates of other states it was found that rural (domestic) consumers in the state were paying only 42% of the power supply cost while in Madhya Pradesh they were paying 86%, Rajasthan 100%, Haryana 53% and Punjab 80%. Even with the new rates, the consumers in this category will be charged only 52%, he said.
Referring to the industrial rates, he said they had always stressed that it were higher as compared to other states because of which they faced problems in selling their produce and was also an impediment in setting up new units.
“Keeping this in mind and for facilitating industrial development and creation of new job opportunities, this section of consumers has been exempted from tariff revision,” he said.
Besides, a 15% exemption has been given to the industrial units which run in one shift and are mostly small and medium industries between 5am to 1pm in the afternoon in summers, he said.
Terming the hike a “dictatorial attitude” of the BJP government, Samajwadi Party spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary said it will further add to the problems of the common people.
“People were already reeling under severe price rise and now this hike will make their lives more difficult for them,” Chaudhary said.
Lashing out at the BJP government for burdening the consumers already troubled by the note ban and GST, the Congress said it did not even wait till the model code of conduct was lifted from the state.
Uttar Pradesh had a three-phase polling for the civic bodies on 22, 26, and 29 November. The results are scheduled to be announced tomorrow.
“This amounts to backstabbing the people and the BJP government’s vulgar votebank politics...if they had to hike the rates why did they wait for the elections to be over,” Congress spokesman Dwijendra Tripathi said.
Refuting the charges, BJP spokesman Manish Shukla, however, said the previous SP government did not raise the tariff just to keep its voters in good humour although it was necessary to meet losses.
“Unless we have enough funds, how can we fulfil out promise of power-to-all by end of 2018,” he asked.
Earlier this year, the Uttar Pradesh government and the Centre had signed a pact to provide 24-hour power to district headquarters, 20 hours to tehsil headquarters and 18 hours to all villages in the state. The pact was signed in the presence of chief minister Yogi Adityanath and then Union power minister Piyush Goyal.
“In a democracy, if someone is really a VIP or a VVIP, it is the common man. Keeping this thought of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi in mind, we decided to ensure power to all in the state,” Adityanath had said.
The state government is also expanding in coming days the ambit of helpline ‘Dial 1912’ through which the consumers in rural areas could convey their grievances pertaining to electricity. Apart from this, the rural consumers will also get the facility of making digital payment.