The state opposition parties [The BJP and the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)] in Delhi have started increasing pressure on the government over electricity prices; claiming that power tariff hikes in recent years has made Delhi rank high among states in terms of the cost of power to end-consumers.
To prove them wrong; the Congress, led by chief minister Sheila Dikshit, has encouraged (may be the best diplomatic word I could think of) the three private sector power distribution companies in the state [Tata Power, BSES Rajdhani and BSES Yamuna] to come out with ads pointing to comparative power costs between Delhi and other metros and states, claiming power rates in the national capital are among the lowest in the country.
The game has caught momentum after the Delhi polling dates were declared.
Information says that Delhi power rates are certainly not among the cheapest, as claimed by the discoms or the ruling Congress government. In terms of the average tariff per unit faced by the poorest class of consumers (those who consume less than 100 units a month), even before the latest round of tariff hikes, Delhi ranked 17th out of 23 in increasing order of cost — in other words, for the poorest consumers, it was the seventh most expensive state/utility in the list. The average cost of power for those using less than 100 units of power was Rs 4.31 per unit (before subsidies) compared with Rs 1.7-3.9 per unit in Mumbai and Rs 2.39 per unit in Chandigarh.
Economic Times also says that if the Dikshit government had not provided a subsidy to the poorest class of consumers, it would have faced the damaging accusation in the run-up to the election that for the poorest consumers Delhi’s power tariffs were among the highest in the country. But as it happens, the Delhi government offered a one rupee per unit subsidy on consumption below 200 units.
If such a subsidy were to be included in the final price, Delhi’s ranking improves considerably, making it the eighth least expensive state or utility for poorer consumers.
The debate here (on the blog) is not whether the opposition is correct or the ruling party; what is interesting is the fact that power tariffs are now being used as fighting tools in election. Not sure if this has happened earlier in India. Mostly not; cuz a country that still has many millions without electricity would fight elections on electricity facility and not on prices (pun intended).
1. ” Harun Yusuf [Congress] said BJP would cut tariff by 30 per cent by curtailing the supply; on BJP’s promise to cut power tariff in Delhi by 30%
“We never supported the power distribution companies. The tariff is fixed by the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission and the government does not have any say in it,” Yusuf said.”
So after Roti, Kapda and Makaan; Indian politics is looking to move up the value chain towards other everyday necessities and that includes POWER TARIFF