Responding to the numerous agitations over the power tariff hike in the union territory, Minister for Power T Thiagarajan justified that the hike had been effected by the government to reduce revenue gap as per the regulations of the Joint Electricity Regulation Commission (JERC) and is not an independent decision of the Puducherry government.
Addressing a press conference on Monday, Thiagarajan said that last year, the cumulative expenses of power purchase and distribution amounted to Rs 1,072 crore while the revenue generated was `851.25 crore leading to a revenue gap of Rs 220.75 crore. In order to meet this revenue gap, the power tariff had been enhanced, said Thiagrajan.
The hike effected was 26.48 per cent of the previous rate as compared to the enhancement of 16.8 per cent in 2012-13. There was no revision in 2011-2012.
Explaining the reason for the levy of surcharge on the bill, Thiagarajan said that JERC (Joint Electricity Regulatory Committee) had directed the government to recover a portion of the total revenue loss of `680.84 crore (since 2009-2010) by way of surcharge by adjusting it in a period of three years.
Out of the `680.84 crore, `360.28 crore would be borne by the territorial administration and the remaining `320.56 crore had to be recovered from consumers within three years by collecting `107 crore annually, said Thiagrajan. However, even the `360.28 crore loss of revenue, which had to be borne by the government, might be difficult for the cash starved UT.
The government had to shoulder a heavy burden of Rs 143.58 crore as payment made to Tamil Nadu government for the power purchase drawn from the grid. “The government will approach Centre to provide Rs 360.28 crore during the Planning Commission meeting for finalising the budget,” Thiagrajan said.
Power was purchased at an average cost of Rs 3.33 paisa per unit, while it was sold to the consumers at an average cost of Rs 4.40 paisa per unit, thus refuting the charges made by Union Minister of state for PMO V Narayanasamy. Narayanasamy had said that it was unfair for the government to purchase power at `98 paise per unit and sell it at over `3 per unit to the consumers.
The arrears to be paid by the Puducherry government for purchase of power runs up to `198.40 crore, with the government’s share being Rs 84.62 crore. Another Rs 34.12 crore was caught up in litigation. The transmission line loss was 12 per cent.
Although there is no dearth of power in Puducherry, the frequent and unscheduled power cuts resulted from the breakdown of infrastructure, which was unable to cater to the growing demand.
The infrastructure issue would be addressed through strengthening of lines, transformers and commissioning of a new substation at Venkatanagar within three months, the Minister confirmed.