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Power tariff conundrum in Orissa

Bhubaneswar, April 12: Ironical as it may seem, while the Orissa state-owned Grid Corporation of Orissa (Gridco) and Orissa Power Transportation Corporation Limited had themselves approached the Orissa Electricity Regulatory Commission to increase power tariff, the energy department has filed a petition before the commission to review its recent decision of increasing the tariff.

Leading trade union leader Sarat Mohanty, who has been working in the power sector for the last 30 years, said: “The approach of the department and the two corporations appears to be contradictory. Significantly, instead of reducing the transmission and power distribution losses, the power distribution companies too are now claiming that increase in power tariff would help them offset their losses.”

Another power sector activist Ramesh Satpathy said that as the state failed to generate required power the government was tacitly backing the demand of power distribution companies for a power hike. “The review petition is just an eye-wash,” he alleged.

Private power distribution companies hope to collect revenue to the tune of Rs 7,109.56 crore if the proposed power hike comes into force. At present, the power distribution companies are collecting Rs 5,937.6 crore.

“Power distribution companies will get an increased revenue share of Rs 1,171.97 crore,” said energy minister Atanu Sabyasachi Nayak.

Out of this, the Central Electricity Supply Utility operating in the coastal belt will get Rs 384.67 crore, North Eastern Electricity Supply Corporation will get Rs 308.82 crore, the Western Electricity Supply Corporation will get Rs 364.21 crore and Southern Electricity Supply Corporation will receive Rs 114.21 crore.

The minister added that out of the Rs 1,171.97 crore, power distribution companies will pay Rs 803.32 crore to Gridco towards purchasing power and Rs 33.71 crore to the Power Transmission Corporation Limited towards carrying charges. “The rest — 334.94 crore — will be spent on meeting the expenses of hike in salaries, pension, line and installation of substation and expenditure of the energy police stations,” he added.

However, Orissa High Court put a stay on the power tariff hike which came into effect from April 1. “Domestic consumers will be burdened,” said Subhranshu Rath, general secretary of the Confederation of Citizens' Associations, Bhubaneswar.

Domestic consumers using up to 100 units used to pay electricity dues at the rate Rs 1.40 per unit. But now the slab has been reduced to 50 units and the consumers will have to pay Rs 1.40 per unit.

The tariff for electricity consumption above 50 units and less than 200 units has been fixed at Rs 3.50 per unit as against the earlier rate of Rs 3.10 for consumption between 100 and 200 units. Beyond 500 units, consumers will have to pay Rs 4.80 per unit.

Effectively, households consuming 300 units per month will have to shell out 20 per cent more in their electricity bills.

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