BJP today accused Delhi government of involvement in a criminal conspiracy in stalling power regulator DERC to effect a 23 per cent cut in tariff in 2010 and alleged that Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit “sided” with the private power distribution companies on the issue.
During a discussion on the issue in the Delhi Assembly,senior BJP leader Harsh Vardhan said after a five-month-long exercise,the then Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission had decided to cut tariff by 23 per cent but the government restrained it from doing so to benefit the private power distribution companies.
“It was a criminal conspiracy under which the DERC was not allowed to cut tariff by 23 per cent. After the discoms and government knew about the DERC move,they hatched a conspiracy to thwart it. There must be high-level probe into it,” he said.
Rejecting the allegations,Power Minister Harun Yusuf said BJP was trying to politicise the issue ahead of the assembly polls.
“The BJP is trying to exploit the issue for political reasons which is very unfortunate,” he said,replying to the discussion on rise in rates of power,water and LPG.
Accusing Dikshit of “siding” with the discoms,Vardhan alleged that after it was known that the regulator would cut tariff,a meeting of Chief Minister,top government officials and BSES executives had taken place,following which an order was issued asking the regulator not to announce new rates.
“We had filed complaints against the Chief Minister also. In the complaint,we had provided details of phone calls made to the CM by various officials after they came to know about the DERC move. There cannot be a bigger criminal conspiracy than this,” he said.
The Delhi BJP in October last year had filed a police complaint against Dikshit and a number of senior bureaucrats alleging their involvement in a “conspiracy” to benefit three private power distribution companies.
Slamming the DERC,Vardhan said the regulator was functioning under influence of the Delhi government and private discoms. He also accused the discoms of deliberately not supplying power to various rural areas of Delhi and selling them at higher rates to make profit. )
Vardhan also came down hard on the government for involving private entities in water sector and alleged a “massive scam” in running of the Nangloi water treatment plant.
BJP MLAs R N Bansal and Sunil Vaidya also tried to corner the government on the issue.
In an indirect criticism of Arvind Kejriwal for asking people not to pay power and water bills,he asked consumers not to take law in their hands as it “amounts to violation of democratic principle and disrespect to constitution of India.”
On May 4,2010,the Delhi government,using a special power,had stalled DERC’s decision to announce the annual tariff for 2010-11 till it re-examined the demands from discoms to increase the rates.
The DERC,which was making last minute preparations to announce the new tariff next day,after receiving the government directive had indicated that it had planned to cut down the tariff by 20 to 25 per cent as discoms would have a surplus of around Rs 4,000 crore if the existing tariff was not changed.
Although DERC was strongly arguing for a cut in tariff,the three-member regulator,following retirement and subsequent appointment of two new members,gave indication of taking a sympathetic approach to the demands of the discoms and hiked the tariff several times.
The government’s notification stalling the tariff order was quashed by Delhi High Court in February,describing the intervention as “absolutely unjustified,unwarranted,untenable”.
Yusuf said Delhi was the only state in the country where the government has ensured 24×7 power supply. He said Delhi used to witness violent demonstration on account of long power cuts before power distribution was privatised.
“The Supreme Court even commended power situation in Delhi and stated that there has been a tremendous improvement in power situation,” he said.
He also made light of BJP’s announcement that power tariff will be cut by 30 per cent if the party wins the assembly polls due in November. “It is just an election plank. The party has a habit of offering lollipops.”