AICC Secretary and Mumbai North MP Sanjay Nirupam today demanded introduction of power reforms to end the monopolisation of purchase and distribution of electricity.
Nirupam, who had recently undertaken a four-day hunger strike to demand reduction in power tariff in Mumbai, said the power reforms must address issues of functioning, costing, pricing of discoms (distribution companies) like RInfra and TATA so that consumers become ultimate beneficiaries of privatisation of the power sector.
In a letter to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, Nirupam said the government must take steps to revamp the constitution and functioning of the regulator/appellate authority.
He urged Chavan to resolve the demands, including that of scrapping of various charges in the electricity bills, extending subsidy to electricity consumers of Mumbai and audit of the discoms.
"Your initiative to provide relief to more than 26 lakh electricity consumers will go a long way in alleviating the sufferings of the common people of Mumbai," he said adding that the government should work towards providing relief to the electricity consumers, especially those of RInfra.
He alleged that there was a nexus between the regulator and RInfra and demanded a thorough investigation by appropriate agency to unearth complicity between them.
In the absence of any real competition in suburban Mumbai, there is absolutely no justifiable reason why there is an inordinate delay in approving the request of 8 lakh consumers to switch to TATAs by the appellate authority, he said.
"Why should Reliance object to the migrations and why should any authority entertain the objections," he asked.
Nirupam said the then BJP-led NDA government privatised the power sector to open up the sector for the benefit of the consumers.
The main objective of privatisation of any service/ sector is to end monopoly. It is therefore ironical that privatisation of the power sector has created a monopoly to the detriment of the consumers, he added.
The systems/ processes of power purchase and pricing lacks transparency, due to which it is difficult to detect manipulations by the Discoms, Nirupam felt.
He said power reforms should focus on the role of the regulator and why it protects the interests of RInfra and not that of the consumers.
"Why do retired IAS officers, who have neither technical background nor expertise on the subject head the regulatory body and why power distribution has been monopolised?" he asked.
The Congress MP also wondered why multiple operators are not allowed in the distribution of power and why restrictions imposed on purchase of power from generators.
Similarly, he wondered why Mumbai discoms have no access to low cost power and forced to buy high cost power.
Nirupam sought to know why there are three different power tariffs in Mumbai, leading to disparity.