M A I N   N E W S

Punjab hikes power tariff by 10.27 pc
Sarbjit Dhaliwal
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, June 14
Illustration by Gaurav Sood The Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission today hiked the power tariff by 10.27 per cent across the board except the farming sector and Scheduled Castes, thus putting a financial burden of Rs 768.65 crore on the power consumers in the state for the current financial year. The announcement in this connection was made by the Commissionís Chairman, Mr R.S. Mann.

However, the actual increase in case of rural domestic power consumers will be 20.27 per cent as the 10 per cent rebate, which was given to them during the last financial year because of the poor quality of power supply to the rural areas, has been abolished. In other words, the Commission has given a big blow to rural domestic power customers. Sources said there were differences among members of the Commission over the abolition of rebate given to rural areas. One of the members insisted that it must be abolished and then other members, to avoid on unsavoury situation, agreed with him.

In fact, according to the sources, there were also differences about the overall increase in the tariff rates. Certain members wanted that the increase should not be above 6 per cent in any case but ultimately the increase in tariff ordered is above10 per cent.

The Commission has also increased the minimum monthly charge by 10.27 per cent for all categories. Even the power rates for the Golden Temple Complex and the Durgiana Mandir in Amritsar have been increased.

The rates for the farming sector, except a small section of farmers who get metered power supply, have not been increased by the Commission on the request of the state government because it has promised to give Rs 1065.18 crore as subsidy to compensate the PSEB for providing power to this sector on low rates. And for the Scheduled Castes, the state government has promised to give Rs 50 crore as subsidy to the PSEB.

However, the tariff rate for the farmers, who get metered supply and whose number is nearly 45,000, has been increased from 57 paise per unit to 62 paise per unit. Roughly calculated, this increase is 9 per cent. The Commission has allowed the PSEB to charge the upward revised rates of tariff with retrospective effect that is from April 1, last.

In fact, the increase in the tariff rates is a second major shock for power consumers. Earlier, the state government had increased the electricity duty by 5 per cent in April this year putting a financial burden of Rs 350 crore, which is to go to the dedicated fund created for the oldaged and other pensioners.

Besides, the Commission had tabulated that the PSEB got Rs 291 crore in excess of its determined revenue requirement during the year 2003-04 and had promised to pass on this money to power consumers by making adjustments in tariff rates accordingly for the current financial year. But this amount appears to have disappeared as no benefit of this amount was passed on to the power consumers today by the Commission. Explaining this point the Commission authorities said after the rechecking of Boardís accounts, it had been found that the excess revenue amount was only Rs 36.66 crore and this amount had been adjusted in the revenue deficit of the Board for 2004-05.

Power tariff experts say the overall financial burden, with the inclusion of electricity duty amount of Rs 350 crore and Rs 291 crore, which was to be passed on to consumers but now has been adjusted in revenue deficit, on power consumers during the current financial year, will be in the range of Rs 1409 crore. This figure includes Rs 768.65 crore also which the Board is to collect from power consumers during the current financial by way of increased tariff rates. For domestic supply, tariff rates up to 100 units have been increased from 200 paise to 221 paise and for 101 to 300 units the tariff has been hiked from 334 paise to 368 paise. For the above-300-unit slab, the new rate will be 389 paise and for non residential and public lighting category it will be 423 paise.

In the industrial sector, the rate has been hiked from 306 to 337 paise for small power supply and 337 to 372 paise for medium power supply and same rate will be applicable for large supply units. For bulk supply the rate has been increased from 357 paise to 394 paise on average basis.

For Railways, the rate has been increased from 402 paise to 443 paise. For Golden Temple and Durgiana Mandir, first 2000 units will be free of cost and above this rates have been increased from 273 paise to 301 paise. There are separate rates for season industry and ice factories etc.

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