New Delhi: Accusing Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit of favouring private power distribution companies, Delhi BJP on Wednesday demanded immediate roll back of the 26 per cent tariff hike and announced an agitation to press for it.
Senior BJP leader V K Malhotra, terming the tariff hike as "atrocious", said the increase in rates reflected "total insensitivity" on the part of the Delhi government towards the plight of the common man who are already battered by high inflation.
He said BJP will hit the street on June 29 to press for an immediate rollback of the hike and launch a drive to collect around 10 lakh signatures opposing the tariff hike.
Addressing a joint press conference with Malhotra, Delhi BJP chief Vijender Gupta alleged the city government of putting pressure on regulator Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission to hike the rates to benefit the discoms.
"The Chief Minister has been favouring the companies from the very beginning," Gupta said, pointing that city government had exercised a special power in May, 2010 restraining the DERC from announcing a cut in tariff by around 25 per cent.
Gupta said BJP workers will also approach each and every citizen urging them to paste a little poster having a punch line `I oppose the tariff hike` on their houses, business premises, cars and bikes.
"Why is the government so sympathetic towards the discoms? The tariff was hiked by 22 per cent in August. Then in January, the BSES was given a bailout package of Rs 500 crore and now again the tariff has been increased," he said.
Alleging that all the discoms were "looting" the consumers, Gupta said considering the huge cash reserves of the discoms, the DERC headed by Berjinder Singh in 2010 had proposed a 25 per cent cut in tariff.
"The movement to be launched on June 29 will continue
indefinitely till government rolls it back completely," Gupta said.
In May last year, the Delhi government had through a notification stalled DERC`s decision to announce the annual tariff for 2010-11.
The DERC, which was making last minute preparations to announce the new tariff, after receiving the government directive had indicated that it planned to cut down the tariff by 20 to 25 per cent as discoms would have a surplus of around Rs 4,000 crore if the existing tariff was not changed.
Although DERC was strongly arguing for a cut in tariff, the three-member regulator, following retirement and subsequent appointment of two new members, took a sympathetic approach to the demands of the discoms and hiked tariff by 22 per cent in August last year followed by a hike of 5 per cent and 2 per cent in February and May this year.
Criticising the DERC also, Gupta claimed that actual tariff had gone up by 75 per cent in the last 10 months.
Asked how he arrived at the figure of 75 per cent, he said if the tariff of 2010 was considered as base rate, then the total hike in tariff in the last 10 months would come to around 75 per cent.
Besides hiking the tariff for domestic consumers by 24.15 per cent, the DERC had levied an eight per cent surcharge on the overall bill to help the discoms recover past losses.