M A I N   N E W S

Power board in pay-back mode
Jangveer Singh
Tribune News Service

Chandigarh, April 23
The Punjab State Electricity Board (PSEB) has issued a circular to refund Rs 292 crore collected as part of enhanced tariff from September last year to domestic consumers in one year’s time even as it is in the midst of a financial crisis and is arranging for loans to clear its salary bill.

The board had affected a 9 per cent increase in the power tariff from September to March this year on the directions of the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC). Although the commission had announced a 4 per cent hike in the annual tariff for last year, the award came only in September, following which the annual hike was amortised and levied on the last seven months of the financial year.

The government finally got the PSEB to issue directions on April 16 stating that the enhanced tariff would be refunded in six bimonthly instalments to consumers and in 12 monthly instalments in case of consumers subjected to monthly billing.

These directions have been passed despite the fact that the PSEB’s petition pleading for a roll back was pending before the regulatory commission. Another petition of former chief engineer Padamjit Singh, apprehending that the government might roll back the hike without submitting the subsidy payment, is also pending before the commission.

The petition states that the government has paid a subsidy of only Rs 1,154 crore to the PSEB against a total subsidy amount of Rs 2,548 crore. The commission had directed on January 15 this year that in case the state government does not pay the subsidy by February 29 then full tariff should be charged from the subsidised consumers (farmers) from March 1.

The PSEB Engineers Association president H.S. Bedi said under the Electricity Act the licensee did not have the power to bypass the PSERC and maintained that the circular issued in this regard by the board was illegal.



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