Puducherry govt. hikes power tariff; decision inhuman, says AIADMK

Decision based on Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission’s recommendations

The Puducherry government has decided to increase power tariff for all sections based on the recommendations of the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission (JERC). AIADMK legislature party leader A. Anbalagan termed the decision “the most inhuman”.

In the last four years, the government had increased power tariff thrice putting additional burden on household spending.

After a similar move in 2019, the Puducherry Electricity Department increased the tariff by an average of 3.12% to fill the gap between revenue and expenditure while retaining the regulatory surcharge of 4% for the year 2020-21.

The revised tariff, which will come into effect from June, will leave an impact on the monthly bills of over 3 lakh domestic consumers in the Union Territory of Puducherry.

The average power tariff is expected to be broadly in the range of 35 paise to 40 paise a unit although it might be slightly higher for some consumer categories. Those consuming above 300 units would be most affected, sources said.

The Puducherry Electricity Department caters to 4.9 lakh consumers of which 3.35 lakh are in the domestic category, 53,224 under commercial category and 6,836 under agriculture category.

As per the JERC order, the rate for consumption up to 100 units (domestic service) remains unchanged at ₹1.50 a unit.

For consumption of 101 to 200 units a month, the tariff has been increased to ₹2.55 a unit from ₹2.50 and for 201 to 300 units the charge has been increased from ₹4.35 a unit to ₹4.50 a unit.

The rate of consumption above 300 units has been increased from ₹5.60 to ₹5.90 a unit. The monthly fixed charges have been fixed at ₹45 irrespective of units consumed.

In the commercial category, for consumption of up to 100 units, the tariff has been increased from ₹5.50 a unit to ₹5.60. For consumption from 101 to 250, the charge has been increased from ₹6.50 a unit to ₹6.65 and for those using above 250 units a month, the tariff has been increased from ₹7.20 a unit to ₹7.40. The monthly charges have been fixed at ₹130 for this category.

For high tension consumers (for contracted demand of up to 5000 kva), the tariff has gone up from ₹5.50 a unit to ₹5.65 a unit.

The JERC fixed the tariff based on the net revenue requirement for the financial year which worked out around ₹1653.21 crore, including ₹1591.27 crore needed for power purchase. So, the gap between the revenue and expenditure was around ₹61.93 crore.

Inhuman, says Anbalagan

Calling the decision inhuman, AIADMK legislature party leader A. Anbalagan said the people were already suffering owing to COVID-19.

“Although Chief Minister V. Narayanasamy has been convening the cabinet meetings quite often, there was no discussion about the sufferings of the people. Instead of extending a helping hand to relieve the people of their sufferings, the government has been only adding insult to injury. The government should immediately withdraw the revised tariff,” he said.

“On the one hand the Centre is keen to open up the power sector to private players. The Congress government had strongly opposed the power reforms stating that it was encroaching upon the rights of the States. But the Puducherry Electricity Department has stealthily brought in the revised tariffs based on the recommendations of JERC,” said V. Balasubramaniam, a resident.

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