In election year, the BJP government in Madhya Pradesh has decided to provide relief to unorganised labourers and BPL category consumers by announcing two schemes to reduce their electricity bills and waive dues. Both Saral Bijli Bill Scheme (SBBS) and Mukhyamantri Bakaya Bijli Bill Mafi Scheme (MBBBMS) are part of Mukhymantri Jan Kalyan (Sambal) Yojana, which Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has described as “a unique revolution for welfare and justice to poor in the state”.
SBBS is meant only for unorganised labourers who have registered with local bodies in recent months. The beneficiaries will be provided electricity at a flat rate of Rs 200 a month. If the monthly bill is less than Rs 200 a month, they will pay the actual amount. If the bill is more than Rs 200, the government will pick up the tab as long as the consumption is up to 1,000 watts. Should they use air conditioners and heaters, they will be debarred from the scheme.
Those who don’t pay income tax, have less than 2.5 acre agriculture land, are not government employees, are not in employment where PF is deducted, are classified as unorganised labourers. As many as 88 lakh unorganised labourers will benefit from SBBS, which will cost the exchequer Rs 1,000 crore in annual subsidy. If they don’t have electricity connection, they can get one free of cost.
MBBBMS, on the other hand, will benefit both unorganised labourers and BPL consumers. Under the scheme, their dues till June and surcharge will be waived. The government expects this waiver to benefit 77 lakh at a cost of Rs 1,806 crore to the exchequer. Distribution companies will bear the cost of surcharge and 50 per cent dues, while the government will bear the cost of the remaining 50 per cent dues.