New Delhi: Accusing power companies of supplying costly electricity, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday sought the Prime Minister's intervention in allowing Delhi government to cancel long-term power purchase pacts with central power generation companies so that tariff can be brought down significantly.
Launching a power amnesty scheme, Kejriwal said the previous Congress government had entered into power purchase pacts with a number of central power generation companies because of which the tariff has gone up significantly in the national capital in the last few years.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader claimed power tariff in the city was high as Delhi was purchasing 50 per cent of the power at the rate of Rs 5.5 per unit.
"We have come to know that many power companies are ready to supply power at Rs 2.5 to Rs 3 per unit. When we can get electricity at this rate, why should we buy it for Rs 5 or Rs 5.50 per unit?," the chief minister said while addressing the programme at Vinod Nagar in east Delhi.
"I appeal to the Prime Minister to intervene as it (the Centre) has powers to cancel the agreements," Kejriwal said, adding, "if this permission is given, the electricity tariff in Delhi will further come down."
The power amnesty scheme will benefit 2.5 lakh consumers in Delhi who had not cleared their dues because of various reasons ranging from inflated bills to power theft.
In July, a high-powered committee of former Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission chief Berjinder Singh, tasked by the AAP government to bring out a white paper on the capital's power sector, had accused the regulator of failing to verify genuineness of short-term power purchase by the discoms.
In its report, the committee has said when the power tariff should have been slashed between 2011 and 2013, the DERC hiked it several times, overlooking consumers' interest.
At the launch, Kejriwal said when the AAP government examined the issue, it realised that the previous government had entered into agreements valid for 30 years.
"The power companies now tell us that since these agreements are in place, you will have to buy power from us. The companies are pressurising us. Why should people suffer?" he said.
He also said the government has no enmity with power companies and wants to ensure 24-hour power supply at cheaper rates. He made it clear that power discoms would be fined if they cut electricity for more than one hour in a day.
"We appeal to the central government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow us to cancel the costly agreements reached earlier with private companies," he said.
The AAP leader contended that during the regime of the
previous government, "there were scams, bribery and corruption in power supply and the burden was shifted on consumers by raising electricity rate."
He said that now there were no malpractices and corruption and asked power discoms to rectify their systems by removing anomalies, if any, assuring the companies that the government was ready to work with them.
He, however, warned that action will be taken against discoms if anomalies were found in their working.
"If anomalies were found in the system stern action will be taken (against power companies)," he said, while asking them to work 'honestly' and to ensure that their staff do not issue inflated bills to the people.
Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, Delhi Power Minister Satyendra Jain and officials of all three power discoms in Delhi were present during launch of the Electricity Bill Dispute Redressal Scheme.
The scheme will benefit about 2.5 lakh consumers in Delhi, Jain said. Over half-a-dozen power consumers who had paid revised bills were handed over no dues certificates by Kejriwal at the function.
A preliminary report of the Comptroller and Auditor General, which stated that the capital's three power discoms showed inflated loss, has given a shot in the arm for the AAP government which has accused these firms of fudging their account books.
In an indictment of the three private discoms, the CAG has found them of allegedly inflating dues from consumers to the tune of whopping Rs 8,000 crore, besides, a range of other irregularities including suppressing revenue.
In its draft report into financial condition of the three private companies, the CAG said, the firms BSES Yamuna Power Ltd (BYPL) and BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd (BRPL) backed by Reliance Infra and Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd inflated their previously-incurred losses.
On August 15, Kejriwal had said the capital may see "further cuts" in power tariff if the Centre gives his government the authority to "cancel" the existing power purchase agreements with electricity generating companies, entered into by the Sheila Dikshit dispensation.
He had said long-term power purchase pacts will have to be scrapped to bring down the power rates.
According to Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission, the three private power distribution companies in the city have been buying 95-98 per cent of power as per provisions of the long-term power purchase pacts signed between erstwhile Delhi Vidyut Board (DVB) and various power generators including state-run NTPC.
Power experts said Delhi discoms have to incur 60 per cent more cost on buying power compared to other states because of the long-term power purchase.