Statesman News Service
Mumbai, 6 January
Aping the Aam Admi Party, as it were, the Maharashtra government is likely to cut power tariff in the state ~ excluding Mumbai ~ by at least 10 per cent within a week that may cost the state an extra subsidy burden of Rs 2,000 crore. The revised tariff, if implemented, would benefit more than 8 crore consumers in the state who are supplied electricity from the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited or Maharvitaran Ltd in Marathi.
In Delhi, Chief Minister Mr Arvind Kejriwal has ordered special audit of power supplying companies by the Comptroller and Auditor General. In Mumbai, Tata Power and Reliance Infrastructure have already written to the government opposing audit of their books. The Tatas and Reliance Infra ~ controlled by Mr Anil Ambani ~ along with BEST are the three separate power suppliers for Mumbai, charging different rates.
Only Mahavitaran Ltd is a semi-government agency, responsible for the distribution of electricity to the rest of Maharashtra.
Among these companies, Tata Power’s tariff card is simple and attractive cost-wise, while Reliance Infra’s rates are scoffed at by domestic consumers who have been switching to Tata Power connections.
Last weekend, the chief minister, Mr Prithviraj Chavan, discussed the feasibility of lowering the electricity charges on domestic consumption with state industries minister Mr Narayan Rane, who headed a committee to examine the complaints by business and industry against the unreasonable cost of electricity compared to neighbouring states like Gujarat and Karnataka. The CM later revised the terms of the Rane committee to include the interest of domestic consumers as well.
The Rane committee report submitted to the government has favoured the lowering of power tariff for domestic consumers by up to 10 per cent. However, there are no clear indications whether business and industry would also be granted a similar discount.
Last year, a spokesman for Mahavitaran Ltd had confirmed that it had signed a PPA or power purchase agreement for about 500 mw with JSW at the rate of Rs 2.72 per unit, which is a better deal than Gujarat, which buys power at Rs 2.89/unit.
The chief minister says the proposed lowering of electricity rates in the state is “not because the AAP government has implemented its poll promise in the national Capital”.
Mantralaya sources say the government may expedite the policy decision on cheaper power as an election sop before the Model Code of Conduct is enforced by the Election Commission of India.
The Congress MP from Mumbai-north, Mr Sanjay Nirupam, was the first to demand a 50 per cent waiver on electricity bill up to 500 units consumption across the state, including the commercial capital, which is not on the CM&’s agenda as it would increase the subsidy burden by an additional Rs 1,800 crore. But sensing the uncomfortable poll prospects in Mumbai’s six Parliament seats, the government may bite the bullet and cut tariff for the city as well.