Maharashtra state favours power tariff cut

Thursday, 12 December 2013 - 7:49am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: DNA
Deputy CM says govt willing to reduce unit rate but decision rests with regulator.

Amid all that news of the ever-rising cost of essentials, here's some good news for your household budget.  Your electricity bills might soon see a downward revision.

Deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar on Wednesday admitted in the legislative assembly that power tariffs across the state are too steep and said that the government wants to bring them down.

Pawar said this during the ongoing winter session of the state legislature in Nagpur. He was responding to a question about power theft cases and recovery of amounts of unpaid bills. The senior Nationalist Congress Party leader stated that a committee that has been formed under the chairmanship of state industries minister Narayan Rane to look into rationalising of power tariffs is likely to submit its report by the month-end. The committee is also reviewing tariffs for different categories of users, including domestic consumers.

"The state government is willing to bring down [electricity] rates although it is ultimately up to the state power authority to decide on tariffs," said Pawar. "After the committee submits its recommendations, the state cabinet will take a decision."

Power thefts have dogged the state with the authorities deciding to stop electricitysupply to places which see instances of power theft or non-payment of bills.

Several legislators, including Devendra Fadnavis and Nana Patole from the Bharatiya Janata Party and Vijay Wadettiwar of the Congress raised a query about electricity theft and the pittance collected by way of recovery. Minister of state for energy, Rajendra Mulak, stated that 23,782 cases of power theft had been reported from the state between 2010-11 and 2011-12 while 6,835 of these had been investigated. Mulak pointed out that action had been initiated against several officials in case of theft of electricity.

Pawar told the lower House that the state government has chalked out a programme to create power infrastructure. "An amount of Rs8,304 crore has been earmarked for spending on creating of infrastructure with the help of the central government. Of this, the state government will contribute Rs1,660 crore from its kitty. The Centre will fund the rest under the Rajiv Gandhi Electrification Mission," said Pawar.

Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, Eknath Khase, alleged that the state government has snapped power connections to farmers, forcing rural areas to face power shutdown for up to 18 hours a day. Admitting that the state power distributor was disconnecting supply in cases where 75 per cent of people had not paid up bills, Pawar urged legislators to request farmers and others to pay up their bills.

Farmer suicide issue rocks House
The state Assembly was adjourned twice on Wednesday when the

Opposition MLAs created a ruckus over the increased number of farmer suicides and for not allowing a discussion on the Vidarbha region.

Opposition leader in the Assembly Eknath Khadse moved the notice of adjournment motion and said that the Vidarbha farmers were facing their worst days due to natural calamities. A package to compensate their loss was announced by the state government but nothing was given to them, he added.      

"Four to five farmers are committing suicides every day in the Vidarbha region. Their suicide notes have the mention of their increasing burden of loan and of not getting proper price for their produce," said Devendra

Phadnavis of BJP.  As the Opposition aggressively stood their ground, proceedings of the House had to be adjourned twice.

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