A cross section of people concerned about the power tariff hike being considered by the Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission,met its chairperson Romila Dubey in Jalandhar on Wednesday. Dubey has been attending meetings such as this one with different sections of society to learn the peoples view before taking a final decision on the hike.
The Commission has received a recommendation of a 55 per cent hike in power tariff rate from the Punjab State Power Corporation limited (PSPCL). The new rates will be applicable from April 1. PSPCL projected a gap of Rs 8,983 crores in aggregate revenue requirement for the year 2012-13 and it is to bridge this gap that the tariff hike has been proposed. Representatives of different associations at the meeting,however,expressed their displeasure at the proposal. President of Federation of Jalandhar Industrial and Traders Association,Gursharan Singh,said the burden of the power subsidy given to the agriculture sector by the government is being borne by the industry.
He said that this free power given to the agricultural sector is being misused hugely and that PSPCL should check such misuse as well as cases of power theft and transmission losses of electricity instead of hiking the tariff. Many industrialists pointed out that if an industrialist applies for a connection,he is forced to pay the entire cost of laying the line from the feeder transformers to the location of his industry and then other consumers are allowed to use the connection from the same line without being charged
anything. They were of the opinion that Punjabs industry is already reeling
under huge crises and a
new burden of tariff would ruin it.
Apart from industrialists,there were other sections of society that voiced their concerns. On behalf of the farming community,Jung Bahadur Singh Sangha,a well known potato farmer,said the Cold Stores,which need 16 hours of regular power supply as they hold perishable items,are not being provided adequate power.
Representatives of educational institutions also lamented that they were never supplied more than 4000 KW of power,whereas they need more power than that to meet the demands of their students. Others present at the meeting complained that neighbouring states like Haryana and Himachal Pradesh have far less power tariff rates than Punjab. Dubey later told mediapersons that the State Electricity Regulatory Commission would keep the commitment of the new state government regarding continuation of subsidy in the agricultural sector,but new rates for power tariff would be decided after obtaining feedback from all section of society.