At a public hearing organised by the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) at Council Hall on Friday, the state-run MSEDCL drew flak from consumer organisations, activists and industry representatives.
MSEDCL has filed a tariff hike petition seeking an 8 per cent increase in the power rates. As a part of the procedure, each proposal to increase the power tariff has to be approved by the MERC.
MERC Chairperson Chandra Iyengar, members Aziz Khan and Dipak Lad were present for the hearing. Director (Operations) of MSEDCL Abhijit Deshpande tried to convince the MERC team and others about the power tariff hike motion, citing the audit report.
Those who attended the hearing said that not only will the hike hit the poor hard, it will also affect the industry badly.
The motion was opposed by consumer representatives. Pratap Hogade said that although the MSEDCL has proposed a ‘32 per cent’ tariff hike and has put forth a proposal for generating an additional Rs 13 crore revenue, only 12,500 demands can be met through the profit obtained by electricity generation, transmission and sale of surplus power.
“There’s no need to impose any tariff hike on consumers. There are many ways through which MSEDCL can earn revenue and also curb the expenditure. There’s evidence that there has been exorbitant expenditure on administration. If the MSEDCL fixes these issues they can save Rs 12,500 and they won’t be needing to impose a tariff hike as proposed,” said Hogade.
Ashwini Chitnis of Prayas Urja Sanstha criticised the MSEDCL’s decision to put up the proposal for years 2013-14, 2014-15 and 2015-16 when two of the three financial years have already passed. She said that a multi-year proposal should be for at least five years.
Vivek Velankar of Sajag Nagrik Manch said that the MSEDCL was understating the loss suffered by the body. He proposed that the MSEDCL should adopt a policy of giving incentive to customers where electricity loss is less than 15 per cent while it should charge a surcharge at places where electricity losses are over 15 per cent.
He also criticised the MSEDCL policy of bringing down the night supply subsidy from Rs 2.5 per unit to Rs 1.5 arguing that it will affect the sale of power. “You will save electricity by discouraging its use in industry. But where will you sell the surplus?” he asked.
Chairperson Chandra Iyengar directed MSEDCL to file its response to major grievances voiced by consumers and to take immediate action on personnel complaints.