Bhubaneswar: Hitting out at the BJD government in Odisha for raising power tariff and asking corporate houses to fund its Rs 5 per lunch 'Aahar' scheme, BJP on Sunday demanded immediate roll back of electricity rate hike to protect the interest of consumers.
"The decision to increase electricity tariff will put enormous burden on the common people, particularly the poor farmers and economically weaker sections," senior BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra told reporters here.
Stating that the government decided to increase power tariff in connivance with Odisha Electricity Regulatory (OERC), Mohapatra demanded the hike should be rolled back forthwith in order to safeguard the interest of the poor consumers, including the farmers.
Referring to cancellation of licenses of three power distribution companies Wesco, Southco and Nesco in the state recently, the BJP leader sought thorough audit of these companies by the auditor general.
In addition, the state-run distribution agency CESU should also be audited in order to present the sorry state of affairs before the people, he said, adding that the state government was equally responsible for leaving the power distribution system in doldrum.
Claiming that the Naveen Patnaik government deliberately protected the distribution companies for so many years for its own interest, Mohapatra said the state-run CESU was also in a shambles as its liabilities stood at about Rs 1,100 crore,higher than other three distribution companies.
He also alleged that the state government had waived around Rs 128 crore power duties of a private company in 2012 causing huge loss to the exchequer.
The BJP leader said the party would support the hartal called by different outfits on March 31 in protest against the power tariff hike.
Coming down heavily on the Naveen Patnaik government for trying to rope in PSUs and other companies to fund its 'Aahar' scheme to provide lunch at Rs five in five places, Mohapatra said BJD leaders must realise that CSR activities are not meant for charity but for undertaking sustainable development.
Maintaining that the Aahar scheme for providing lunch at Rs 5 is not meant for creating assets or bringing sustainable development, the senior BJP leader said the state government should have made budgetary provisions for the programme instead of asking companies like MCL, NALCO and SAIL to fund it.
Stating that there are clear guidelines for CSR activities, he said CSR funds should never be spent on populist programmes and propaganda.
Central PSUs like SAIL, MCL and NALCO are already spending substantial funds for different programmes, including mid-day meal scheme, Mohapatra said adding that they are pumping in about Rs 800 crore in schools for construction of toilets and similar facilities.