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Millennium Post

No end to Capital’s power struggle

Delhi has become the April’s Fool, as it were, as far as electricity and gas bills are concerned. Not only has the power subsidy, announced by former AAP government in the national capital, now expired, the city must also cope with added surcharge of eight per cent that has been imposed by the regulatory body. Bowing to the whimsies of the power discoms, Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) has approved the extra hike, in addition to the scrapping of the subsidy for consumers using less than 400 units a month. Even as Delhi high court delivers a verdict on this issue on Tuesday, the woes of Delhi denizens are not likely to go away any time soon. The power discoms, chiefly the Reliance-owned BSES companies, have upped the ante and flexed their substantial financial muscle to arm-twist the regulatory body, and indeed the Delhi administration under lieutenant governor Najeeb Jung, to escalate utility bills. In this tussle between state-owned generation companies and the private power retailers, it’s the aam aadmi who is getting hit hard. Underprivileged residents have to not only bear unfairly unsubsidised tariff, they have also to carry on after political compulsions forced dissolution of last government in Delhi. In this poll season, posturing over power tariffs has become a standard operating procedure, and despite heated debate by all the political parties, no relief has been offered to hapless consumers, who are already fighting inflation and price rise.

It is extremely regrettable that Delhites have been forced to put up with a double whammy of gas and power price hike almost at the same time, that too because government has been shamelessly allowing corporations to hold the aam aadmi to ransom. While power discoms would like us to believe that earlier rates did not reflect their power purchasing cost, the CAG audit has already exposed major loopholes in their balance sheet. Not only do the retailers owe power generation company enormous debts, BSES is a serial defaulter that has not paid its dues to NTPC a number of times. Given the situation, it is appalling that the Delhi administration under LG Jung is still batting for Reliance, even as the former chief minister Arvind Kejriwal had exposed the barefaced lies of the private sector giant.
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