BHUBANESWAR: Members, cutting across party-lines, on Thursday demanded immediate rollback of the proposed power tariff hike and urged the Government to provide subsidy to insulate the domestic consumers from the tariff shock.
“The hike in the value added tax (VAT) and power tariff are the gift of the State Government to the people of the State after panchayat elections,” Congress Chief Whip Prasad Harichandan remarked, He was speaking during a debate on the admissibility of the adjournment notice moved by him on power shortage and increased power tariff in the Assembly.
Accusing the Government of protecting the interest of industries, Harichandan said tariff had been increased by 89 per cent for consumption of first 100 units and this would hit the low-end domestic consumers hard.
Unless the Government comes to the rescue of the consumers, the Orissa Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC) can do nothing. The quasi-judicial body is going by the rule book. The hands of the regulator are tied because of the national tariff policy.
He made a strong plea for Government subvention to protect the domestic and the BPL consumers as done by other states. The Commission has doubled the tariff for the BPL consumers from Rs 30 to Rs 60 for 30 units.
While Andhra Pradesh is providing annual subsidy of Rs 7,000 crore, Punjab ` 3,144 crore and a small state like Jharkhand Rs 1,000 crore, the Odisha Government has not given any assistance to the sector after its unbundling.
Rather the Government has earned more than Rs 12,000 crore in terms of electricity duty from distcoms and dividend from the Orissa Power Generation Corporation.
The State Government is responsible for the present power crisis as it has not added a single unit of power during the last 12 years, he said.
Opposing the steep hike in power tariff, senior BJD members Pravat Tripathy and Ananta Das requested the Government to bring down the tariff by providing subsidy for the domestic consumers. “The power tariff hike is not acceptable. The Government should again approach the regulatory commission for reconsideration of the tariff,” he said.
Several other members also demanded Government subsidy to lessen the tariff impact on the domestic consumers.