Your power bills are set to go up. Maharashtra’s Energy Minister Chandrasekhar Bawankule on Wednesday justified a proposal by the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company, or MahaVitran, for an average tariff hike of 5.5% in 2016-17 for its 25 million consumers.
MahaVitran has filed a petition for revision in tariffs before the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission, Bawankule said. “It is now for the Commission to rule on it,” he said.
The state-run power distribution company, which has total arrears from various consumer categories totalling Rs 20,000 crore, has argued that the tariff hike was imperative to sustain operations at current levels. “The rise is owning to natural inflationary power,” said Bawankule.
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The Opposition, which raised the issue in the Legislative Assembly, used the opportunity to fire barbs at the government. “When the present chief minister was still an Opposition MLA and was leading the party in the state, he had said in the election run-up that the BJP government would bring down power tariffs and ensure there was no load shedding,” said Leader of Opposition Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil.
Bawankule, however, countered that the MERC had last year approved the state’s proposal for a 5.75% tariff cut. Of the Rs 20,000 crore in arrears, Bawankule said about Rs 13,000 crore were due from farmers. “It is not logical to press for recoveries in farm electricity arrears when the farmers of the state have faced a severe drought,” he said.
The state has provided a Rs 1,100-crore support for rebates in tariff charges to industrial consumers. The power tariff for commercial and industrial consumers in Maharashtra is among the highest in the country.