After the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi decided to slash electricity bills by bringing in a 50% cut in tariffs for households consuming up to 400 units of power every month, Congress MP from north Mumbai Sanjay Nirupam has written to chief minister Prithviraj Chavan asking him to follow suit in Maharashtra. A former Shiv Sainik, he has also threatened an agitation against his own government to seek a reduction in power tariffs.
“Please note that if this legitimate expectation of the entire middle class and slum population is not met in the immediate future, we will be constrained to launch an agitation against our own government to press for substantial reduction in power tariff. It is also demanded that an inquiry be set to investigate the cost structure and pricing mechanism adopted by power distribution companies,” he said in his letter.
While the BEST supplies power to the island city and Sion and the Reliance Infrastructure Limited (Rinfra) covers the suburbs and Mira-Bhayander. The Tata Power Company’s distribution business supplies power to bulk and some retail consumers.
“The chief minister of Delhi has announced a 50% cut in power tariff effective from January 1, 2014 for consumption up to 400 units. This decision will benefit lakhs of people and slum dwellers. They have simultaneously ordered a CAG audit of the power distribution companies but have gone ahead and reduced the tariff even before any audit has commenced. The Regulatory Authority in Delhi was not even consulted. But whenever we raised this issue in Mumbai, the standard reply given was that the matter has been referred to the regulatory authority,” said the MP.
He added that the decision had a positive impact on low-income families in Mumbai, who were unable to understand why the government could not reduce power tariffs.
“I am pained to point out that in the past 10 years the power tariff in Mumbai has increased by around 4 times in all sectors. The possibility that some sort of cartelisation exists cannot be ruled out since both companies supplying power have been increasing the tariff from time to time. The situation in Mumbai is similar to that of Delhi where the very same power distribution companies supply power. In the past, whenever the government has responded to public demand for reduction in power tariff, the benefit of the subsidy announced has accrued only to the power companies. This time it is demanded that the subsidy, if any, be passed on directly to the consumers,” he added.
“The people of Mumbai have high expectations in this regard, especially since they are unable to make ends meet due to the high cost of living. It is therefore demanded that the power tariff be substantially reduced for those whose consumption is less than 500 units per month,” he demanded.