Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has assured Delhiites that they would not have to live without electricity, although he did ask the people to be ready for "some difficulties" in case power distribution companies continued with their "blackmailing" tactics.
Amid the continuing standoff between the AAP government and Anil Ambani's BSES discoms, which are pressing for a hike in power tariffs, Kejriwal said that he had no personal issue with either Ambani or the Tatas, who run another discom in the capital.
"We would be very happy to work with them if they want to do honest business," he told PTI Editors. Providing uninterrupted power to Delhi was part of the terms of licence for the discoms, Kejriwal said, adding that "if they (discoms) violate the terms... then they better go".
He warned the discoms that they will not be allowed to "blackmail" the people of the city and assured that his government would not let "Delhiites live without power". "This is not only my struggle. If you go to the people, they are very upset with the issue of electricity. It is a collective struggle and we will have to fight together.
"If we want to stop the blackmail, we should be ready for some difficulties in the transition period and everyone will have to bear it," he said.
Alleging that there was "active collusion" between the companies and the previous Congress government, Kejriwal said that the power tariff would be decided on the basis of the CAG scrutiny of the three private discoms. "There was active collusion between the companies and the previous government. Now the message to them is very clear. We would be very happy to work with them if they want to do honest business. We have no personal issues with either Tatas or Ambanis."
Anil Ambani group companies BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd and BSES Yamuna Power Ltd supply electricity to 70 per cent of the consumers in Delhi while Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd caters to the rest of the areas, except the localities under New Delhi Municipal Council. "We are neither friends nor enemies. But if they want to function the same way like they did previously, that wouldn't work," the Chief Minister said.
Asked what kind of action his government was contemplating in case the discoms failed to provide uninterrupted power and whether other players are being brought in, Kejriwal said, "Recourses are very many, but I cannot disclose those right now."
"They cannot threaten us that we will cut power for 10 hours, give us money. That will not work. It's part of their terms of licence that they have to provide uninterrupted power. If they violate the terms of their licence, then they better go," he stressed.
Delhi government had last Monday recommended to the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission that it revoke the licences of BSES discoms if they resort to long outages citing funds crunch. NTPC had served notices over interruption in supply on BSES discoms and said that electricity supply will be snapped if they do not clear their dues by February 10.
However, Supreme Court on Thursday directed NTPC not to cut power supply to BSES till March 26. BSES discoms have informed the government that they do not have the money to buy power and the city may reel under long outages if funds are not provided to them. Kejriwal said discoms will not be allowed to threaten the government. Asked about the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity's directive to DERC that a final decision on cancellation of licences of BSES discoms should not be taken without its approval, the Chief Minister said that the order favoured the government.
"That order is in our favour. It is clearly written that it is a victory of the Delhi government. The order says that 'you (DERC) can go ahead and if you taken action, let us know'. Letting them know doesn't mean we cannot take action," he explained. Asked when the CAG would submit the report on scrutiny of discoms' accounts, he said that the auditor had informed him that it may take three to four months for the same.
"When I spoke to the CAG, they said that if they (discoms) cooperate with us, then it should take three to four months. In the last two-three days, the power department has told me, they have started giving some records. So lets see how they do it," he said.