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Power subsidy is latest flashpoint between LG and Delhi govt as former orders enquiry into flagship scheme

At present, Delhi government's power subsidy bill is around Rs 3,200 crore per annum.

The L-G secretariat has asked the Chief Secretary for an enquiry report into the Delhi government's flagship scheme of electricity subsidy.

After recommending a CBI enquiry into the Delhi government’s now-scrapped liquor policy, the L-G secretariat has asked the Chief Secretary for an enquiry report into the government’s flagship scheme — electricity subsidy.

The secretariat of L-G Vinai Kumar Saxena has asked the Chief Secretary to inquire into and submit a report within seven days regarding why an “order” passed by the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) in 2018 to pay electricity subsidy through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) was allegedly not followed, officials in the secretariat said.

The Delhi government has not responded to the development so far.

In communication between DERC and the deputy power secretary, the DERC Executive Director (Tariff) had said that DBT should be considered for giving subsidy for electricity, just like it is given for LPG. This, he said, would do away with the need for an audit of DISCOMs regarding the subsidy claimed.

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This communication was based on a letter written to DERC regarding the subsidy by the government to DISCOMs in 2017.

The AAP government’s subsidy scheme, wherein no bills are generated for those who use less than 200 units of power per month and those using up to 400 units pay 50% capped at Rs 800, was started in 2019.

However, a subsidy model for power bills had been in place since the Sheila Dikshit government was in power in the 2000s.

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At present, Delhi government’s power subsidy bill is around Rs 3,200 crore per annum.

According to officials at the L-G secretariat, they received a complaint raising “several issues of impropriety and discrepancies in the power subsidy matter”. While refusing to identify the complainants, and saying only that they were “a collective of eminent lawyers, jurists and law professionals”, the officials said that the role of two directors appointed by the government to the boards of BSES will also be looked into.

“The complaint said that AAP government instead of recovering outstanding dues of Rs 21,250 crore on account of default in payment for power purchased by defaulting vendor DISCOMs (BRPL and BYPL) from State-owned Power Generation Companies, and debarring it from further business in Delhi, got into a deal with them by way of agreeing to let them settle their outstanding dues against future payments to be made to them by the government in shape of subsidy reimbursements for supposedly free power that they provided to the consumers. This amounted to a sum of Rs 11,550 crore being settled as reimbursements. It may be noted that the third private DISCOM in the Capital – TATAs owned Tata Power Delhi Distribution Limited (TPDDL) had regularly cleared its dues of power purchased from the government and had no outstanding amount against it… The government also allowed the DISCOMs to charge Late Payment Surcharge (LPSC) at a rate of 18% from the people, while paying a rate of 12% to the Delhi Government owned Power Generation Companies, in the process providing them a windfall gain of Rs. 8,500 crore at the cost of the state exchequer,” claimed the official.

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Power subsidy in Delhi has been in news lately with the government making it optional to avail the subsidy. If one wants to opt in, they have to fill a form, either online or in person, and submit it to the government.

“Gujarat is liking AAP’s free electricity guarantee and that is why BJP wants to stop it in Delhi. People of Delhi, trust me, I will not let anyone stop you from getting free electricity. To the people of Gujarat, I assure that on electing the government you will start getting free electricity starting March 1,” Kejriwal tweeted.

“You have levied such high taxes on everything, have brought inflation. You are sucking people’s blood. In this situation, if I am giving free power to my people and giving them some relief, why can you not tolerate it? You want to stop this also? I will not let this happen,” Kejriwal added.

First published on: 04-10-2022 at 01:51:00 pm
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