Delhi Govt To Revise Power Subsidy Scheme? Power Minister Atishi Answers
The Power Minister also stated that the government will soon release a summer plan for uninterrupted power delivery, complete with a shared dashboard for micro-monitoring of power outages.
New Delhi: The Delhi government has no plan to revise its power subsidy scheme and it will continue without any restrictions on sanctioned load to consumers, Power Minister Atishi said on Monday. She told reporters the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) had issued statutory advice to the city government in 2020, asking it to consider restricting electricity subsidy to the poor and needy consumers.
The DERC withdrew the advisory on January 6 this year, saying the issue did not fall under its jurisdiction. Last week, Lieutenant Governor V K Saxena asked Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar to direct the power department to place the DERC advisory before the council of ministers and take a decision within 15 days.
"The Delhi government is committed to ensuring round-the-clock power supply. There is no plan to revise the subsidy scheme as was reported recently. The LG was perhaps briefed incorrectly because the DERC has withdrawn its statutory advice," Atishi said. She also said the government will "simplify" the process for consumers applying for subsidy or giving it up.
Last year, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal declared that only those who apply for the subsidy will get it. Atishi said the DERC has stated that its advice was legally "incorrect" and it could give advice to the government only on four matters, excluding subsidy.
The consumers have to apply online as well as offline to get a 100 per cent subsidy on the consumption of 200 units per month and a 50 per cent subsidy (up to Rs 800) on monthly consumption of 201 to 400 units.
The LG's instruction was based on a report by the chief secretary that said the DERC had advised the Delhi government in October 2020 to extend the power subsidy to consumers with a sanctioned load of either up to 3KW or up to 5KW, as it will cover almost 95 per cent of the total domestic consumers and save the government up to Rs 316 crore.
Atishi alleged that the LG's instruction hinted at "malafide intent" to create a hurdle in the Kejriwal government's work. Around 95 per cent of domestic power consumers who earlier availed subsidy have applied for it so far, she claimed.
She justified the power subsidy by claiming that the government's revenue has increased and its budget size has gone up from Rs 30,000 crore in 2015 to Rs 75,000 crore at present.
"Also, it is not right in principle that government decides consumption by the people and what electronic gadgets they use and puts restrictions on it. The government has just given an opportunity to those who want to give up subsidy," she said. Raj Niwas sources, however, said the L-G in none of his communication had even suggested or asked the AAP government to withdraw subsidies.
"He has repeatedly asked for the subsidy to be given to the poor who are deserving, rather than to private power companies," a source said, alleging Kejriwal government was providing benefit to the discoms in the name of giving subsidy to the poor.
It will be better if the government stops "misleading" people through withdrawn DERC orders that were recalled after the "scam" came to light, they added. Atishi said the DERC has also withdrawn its advice for direct benefit transfer to power consumers instead of subsidy disbursal to the discoms. She said the government was not in favour of it as it was "unfeasible".
The current system of consumers applying to avail subsidy will be re-launched in April after making the process simpler so that they could do so in a 'yes' or 'no' method or likewise, the Delhi power minister said. She also said the government will soon come up with a summer plan for uninterrupted power supply with a common dashboard for micro-observation of power cuts.
The discoms have anticipated a peak power demand of 8,000 MW this summer, Atishi added. A statement from AAP said, "Let LG say it on record and we will sue him for defamation." The party also alleged that the LG has "no sense" of the constitutional post that he holds.