The government on Monday notified rules that would allow consumers in India to access continuous supply of quality, reliable electricity. The Electricity (Rights of Consumers) Rules, 2020 serve to “empower” citizens by laying down rights that make distribution companies more accountable to consumers. There are exceptions to these rules for certain categories, according to the Ministry of Power.
“The distribution licensee shall supply 24×7 power to all consumers. However, the Commission may specify lower hours of supply for some categories of consumers like agriculture,” stated the Ministry in a release. “I would call this almost historic. It is important for the power system because, for the first time, we are placing the consumer at the centre,” said Power Minister RK Singh.
According to the Ministry, the move was “necessary” because distribution companies, regardless of whether they are public or private, are “monopolies”, and the consumer has no alternative. The rules cover various aspects of power supply to consumers in the country, including obligations of distribution licensees, metering arrangements, release of new connections and modifications of existing connections and grievance redressal and compensation mechanisms.
To ensure compliance, the government will apply penalties that will be credited to the consumer’s account. “For example, if in a normal area you want to give connection, that connection has to be given in the maximum of seven days … and if you don’t give a connection within seven days, then a penalty will apply,” said Singh.
The rules apply from the day they are notified. Over 100 responses were received from “all stakeholders” on the draft. “It is a concurrent subject and … the central government has the authority and the power to make laws regarding electricity and rules,” said Singh. “It’s not optional. It’s not a scheme. It is a law,” he added.
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