THE PETITION filed by the Chandigarh electricity department before the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission (JERC) was challenged by the consumers, who termed the proposed hike of up to 32 per cent unjustified.
Although the session witnessed a low turnout, those present opposed the proposed tariff hike.
J S Gogia, general secretary of Federation of Sector Welfare Associations, Chandigarh (FOSWAC), criticised the department for penalising the general public for their inefficiency. He stated that the department had failed to curb power theft. He maintained that domestic connections in villages are being used for commercial purposes, causing huge losses to the department. “Why should the general public be penalised for mismanagement of the department?” he asked.
Ajay Jagga, a social activist and advocate, stated that domestic connections are being used for commercial purposes in various shops-cum-flats with impunity.
The gap between revenue and expenditure stands at Rs 1,127.69 crore and the last revision of tariff was done in 2012.
“The proposed hike is totally unrealistic. If proper management is done by proper checking of lines, the losses will come down drastically,” said Jagga.
Kamaljit Singh Panchi, president of Sector 17 Traders’ Association, criticised the department for its failure to recover the pending amount running in several crores from defaulters. As per records, the department has to recover over Rs 10 crore from as many as 270 consumers.
A representative of Bharat Yuva Manch proposed a revenue generation model by offering advertising space to advertisers. It was suggested that the department should start carrying advertisements on the electricity bills and its infrastructure to generate funds to meet its expenditure.
THE UT Powermen Union raised the issue of staff and material shortage in the electricity department. The members of the union stated that the department had not been able to provide desirable service to the consumers due to shortage of staff, so the proposed hike was unjustified. Gopal Dutt Joshi, general secretary of the union, demanded that vacant posts should be filled at the earliest. The union also took up the issue of lack of proper safety equipment provided to the field staff. As per the Safety and Electric Supply Regulation, 2010, the utility has to ensure safety of its employees. However, the Chandigarh electricity department has failed to provide even basic safety equipment such as gloves, gum boots, helmet, safety belt, testing rod, earth stick and tools for testing voltage to its field staff.
Will not give power shock: JERC
S K Chaturvedi, chairman of the commission, said that they would review all the suggestions before passing tariff order. He, however, assured everyone that the tariff would be fixed keeping consumers in mind. “We will not give power shock to the consumers,” said the chairman. He stressed the need for corporatising the electricity department for improving its efficiency.
Quote and apology
HIGH drama was witnessed at the fag end of the session after R K Arora, chairman of Consumer Grievances Redressal Forum (CGRF), quoted Winston Churchill: “You will never reach your destination if you stop and throw stones at every dog that barks.” Arora reacted after Sanjeev Sagar, president of Industrial Area Tenants Association, accused CGRF of working under pressure of the electricity department. Sagar and others objected and made Arora apologise.