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HC notice over subsidised power to politicians

Statesman News Service | Chandigarh |

The Punjab and Haryana High Court on Friday issued notice to the Haryana government on a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking exclusion of over a dozen politicians, including former chief ministers of the state, Bansi Lal, Om Prakash Chautala and Bhupinder Singh Hooda from the list of beneficiaries of subsidised power for agricultural pump sets.

A division bench of the HC comprising Justices Ajay Kumar Mittal and AS Grewal has issued notices to the state government, Haryana Vidyut Prasaran Nigam Limited (HVPNL) and Haryana Electricity Regulatory Commission (HERC) for 16 March on a PIL filed by advocate HC Arora seeking exclusion of affluent farmers from the list of people getting subsidised power for agricultural pump sets.

In his PIL, the petitioner has stated that tariff charged for electricity to agricultural pump sets is at the rate of 10 paisa per unit for metered connections, and at the rate of Rs 15 per break horse power for unmetered connections, whereas, for domestic consumers, the tariff is charged as per slab system from Rs 2.70 to Rs 7.10 per unit, which is highly discriminatory against domestic consumers.

According to the petitioner, the names of nearly 19 political leaders including Bansi Lal, Om Prakash Chautala, Bhupinder Singh Hooda, Haryana Finance minister Captain Abhimanyu, his father Mittar Sen, Leader of Opposition in Haryana Assembly Abhay Singh Chautala, Haryana minister Nayab Saini’s father Telu Ram, sitting MLAs including Krishan Hooda of Congress, Balwant Singh Daulatpuria and Ranbir Gangwa of Indian National Lok Dal (INLD), former minister Paramavir Singh, ex-MLA Prahlad Singh and many others were in the list of beneficiaries getting subsidised electricity for tube wells being used for agriculture purposes.

The petitioner has stated that directions were issued by the HERC, Panchkula, in its report dated 11 July 2017 to its discoms to request agricultural power consumers, whose income, other than agricultural income, is in excess of Rs 20 lakh, to voluntarily give up the electricity subsidy consumed at their tube-wells so as to reduce the burden of subsidy payable by the state government which has reached unsustainable levels, because of the annual increase in tube-well connections.