PATNA: Electricity tariff in Bihar is likely to be increased by up to 20 paise per unit soon, indicated the state’s power minister Bijendra Yadav on Sunday. The Opposition NDA promptly criticised the move, saying it would start statewide agitations against this “anti-people” measure.
“There is a possibility of electricity tariff being raised in the state. A proposal will be sent (by the distribution companies and the power department) and the regulatory commission would look at it. The rise could be up to between 10 and 20 paise per unit,” said Yadav in reply to a question from journalists.
Power tariffs have not been raised in Bihar in the last three years, barring a small raise of 2.43 per cent for 2015-16, and the distribution companies are said to be struggling with an unsustainable financial burden even as their consumer bases have grown by more than four times in the past four years. A rise in the price of coal has also led to a rise in the cost of power.
The increased tariff rates are likely to be effective from 2017-18. According to sources, the energy department plans to simplify the tariff structure by decreasing the number of tariff slabs and change the subsidy structure for a higher cost coverage.
North Bihar Power Distribution Company and South Bihar Power Distribution Company of the state energy department are likely to approach Bihar Electricity Regulatory Authority (BERC) later this month to seek a raise in power tariff.
The two companies’ proposal to raise power tariff in 2015-16 was shot down by BERC, but the Appellate Tribunal for Electricity had later set aside the BERC order. The two companies said they plan to reduce their aggregate technical and commercial (AT&C) losses by 15 per cent by 2019-20.
The Opposition NDA leaders said they would agitate against any move to raise power tariff in the state. “We are against any move that affects the ordinary people negatively,” said RLSP leader and Union minister Upendra Kushwaha.
“We will start a statewide agitation if the government goes ahead with its anti-people decision. Power is a basic right of all citizens,” said newly appointed state BJP chief Nityanand Rai minutes after the energy minister told journalists of the government’s likelihood of seeking a revision in tariff rates and subsidy slabs.