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Congress follows AAP, Nirupam seeks cut in Maharashtra power tariff

Jan 01, 2014 03:18 PM IST Politics Politics

New Delhi: The decision to slash the electricity prices in Delhi by Aam Aadmi Party government has led to a similar call by the ruling Congress in Maharashtra.

Just a day after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced the decision to slash power tariff by half in the city, Congress MP Sanjay Nirupam asked Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan to implement a similar scheme in the state.

Nirupam said the Maharashtra Cabinet should also follow Delhi by slashing power tariff by half.

"Power tariff should be lowered. If Delhi Cabinet can pass such a populist scheme, why can't Chavan do the same," asked Nirupam in his letter to the chief minister.

The Congress leader also called for investigation into cartelisation by private power companies to know whether the current electricity prices were justified.

Kejriwal had earlier announced audit of power distribution companies in Delhi. CAG sources said Kejriwal requested for audit of power companies from the last 11 years for which team will be deputed. The sources refuse to give a specific time frame for the completion of the audit.

Kejriwal has consistently alleged that private power distribution companies were overcharging Delhi residents.

AAP had promised to cut the electricity tariff by 50 per cent after assuming power. On Monday, AAP fulfilled its promise of providing free water too by giving each household with meters 20,000 litres water free per month.

Interestingly, Kejriwal's decision to slash electricity prices has been welcomed from unexpected quarters.

Tata Power termed the move "a very strong and positive step". "It's a very good and positive step because at the end of the day the consumer will get the benefit of it. It's good that the Delhi government has decided to give subsidy to the consumer.

The decision doesn't impact us, the balance after subsidy will be paid by the government," Tata Power CEO Pravin Sinha said.

However, the company said that audit issue is sub-judice. "We will submit our reply to the government on the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) audit since the matter is before the court and the we are already being audited by the CAG auditors apart from the various audit that is being done at the behest of DERC.

So all those facts and figures we will present before the government and it's on them to take a call," Sinha added.

Meanwhile, the public too welcomed this move of the government. "I am extremely happy that Kejriwal has taken this step for us. I hope he continues to help everyone in every possible way, be it on power, water or houses," said a Delhiite.

The decision to subsidies power tariff will involve a cash outgo of Rs 61 crore in the remaining three months of the 2013-14 fiscal.

For units above 201 and up to 400, the charges will be Rs 2.90 per unit against the current Rs 5. In effect, the 50 per cent subsidy will amount to 20 per cent in the case of the first 200 units and around 35 per cent for consumption between 201 and 400 units since Tuesday's decision is applicable on rates revised in August 2013.

The previous Sheila Dikshit government had given Rs 1.20 subsidy on the rates for consumption of up to 200 units and 80 paise between 201 and 400 units.

Kejriwal said further decision on the rate cut would be taken after the audit of the three power distribution companies - BSES Yamuna Power Ltd, BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd and Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd.

He said Cabinet would meet on Wednesday after the three companies submit to the government their views on the proposal for audit of their finances. While ruling out any time frame for the audit, he said a decision on the same can be taken only after studying the replies of the three companies who have been given time till January 1, 2014 to respond.