Kejriwal restores power supply to a home in a south Delhi slum on Saturday. (PTI)
New Delhi, Oct. 6: Arvind Kejriwal today restored power supply to a home in a south Delhi slum, whose connection was snapped for failure to pay a Rs 15,000 bill, calling his action “civil disobedience” against steep tariffs and daring the government to arrest him.
“Bijli paani satyagraha has started in Delhi. Stop paying electricity and water bills till the Delhi government withdraws the tariff hike… I will personally come and reconnect your electricity connection if they disconnect,” the IIT graduate said.
Delhi power minister Haroon Yusuf accused Kejriwal, who launched a political party this week, of trying to spread “anarchy” and appealed to people to approach redress cells if they thought they were being overcharged.
The rival BJP was at a loss as Kejriwal stole its thunder.
Power tariff is likely to be an important issue ahead of the Delhi Assembly elections next year-end, which Kejriwal has picked out as the first target for his yet unnamed party.
Power tariffs were raised by 24 per cent for household consumers and 19.5 per cent for commercial consumers from July 1 this year. Before that, in the last quarter of 2011, rates were increased by 21.7 per cent. But between 2002, when power distribution was privatised, and 2011, there had been only a marginal increase in tariff.
The power companies deny complaints of inflated bills and sending recovery agents to force consumers to pay.
Kejriwal said the hefty bill to the labourer, who he said only used a fan, was an example of how the common man was being terrorised but several MPs and MLAs who owe big amounts to power companies went scot-free.
A power distribution company source disputed Kejriwal’s claim that the Rs 15,000 bill was for one month, pointing out that bills in slums which have single-phase connections are sent bimonthly. On how a household that allegedly only has a fan and a couple of lights was consuming power worth Rs 7,500 a month, the source said the company was investigating this.
“But we have found cases in the past where some dwellers in this slum, which is near Saket, have air-conditioners, heaters and other electronic gadgets,” the source said.