Faced with strong criticism from the Opposition,the Himachal Pradesh government on Wednesday came to the rescue of the domestic power consumers – the worst affected lot by Tuesdays tariff hike – and announced to increase the subsidy on electricity to cushion the impact of the hike.
Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said the power subsidy of Rs 146 crore will be increased by Rs 20 crore (to Rs 166 crore) to give relief to the consumers hit by tariff hike ordered by the Himachal Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission on Tuesday.
He said the BPL consumers would continue to get electricity at the rate of 70 paise per unit and Non BPL Domestic consumers at the rate of Re 1 per unit (up to 40 units). Agriculture tariff for LT category consumers would remain unchanged at the rate of 50 paise per unit.
Meanwhile,former minister and Congress MLA G S Bali strongly reacted to the steep power tariff hike and termed it as BJP governments biggest onslaught on the people in the hill state. Bali accused the government of playing in the hands of the private power producers.
We want the government to immediately roll back the hike and supply power to the people of Himachal Pradesh at lower rates, he said in Kangra.
The Communist Party of India ( Marxist ) leader Tikender Singh Panwar said the increase in tariff from Rs 2.20 to 2.35 per unit for first 40 units in a month for the domestic consumers and further a progressive increase would pose an additional burden of Rs 5,000 per annum on the families.
The CPM opposes the hike. It is a direct result of the unbundling of the Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board,done on the guidelines of the IMF and World Bank. The increased role of the private power companies in the generation sector is also questionable, Panwar said.
However,Dhumal has claimed that the enhanced subsidy would ensure that the tariff hike for other domestic consumers remains marginal. He said that the tariff for other categories such as street lights,commercial supply and small industries would not be increased.
The CM said that nine per cent increase in tariff by the Electricity Regulatory Commission was necessitated due to the increase in the cost of power generation and also on account of implementation of revised pay scale for the employees.