Regular-article-logo Wednesday, 07 June 2023

Jharkhand power utility on the mat at tariff hearing

Industry leaders join residents to complain of irregular supply and faulty billing, say hike unjustified

Achintya Ganguly Ranchi Published 12.02.19, 06:52 PM
JSERC member (technical) RN Singh at the public hearing in Ranchi on Tuesday.

JSERC member (technical) RN Singh at the public hearing in Ranchi on Tuesday. Picture by Manob Chowdhary

Industry leaders came out strongly against a proposal to hike power tariffs on Tuesday, their argument predictably based on irregular supply and erratic billing by Jharkhand Bijli Vitran Nigam (JBVNL) that has approached regulators for an increase in charges from the next fiscal across all categories of consumption except agriculture.

“Dar nirdharan se pahle hamara dard nibaran hona chahiye (We must get relief from our pain before revision of tariff),” said chairman of the industry sub-committee of Federation of Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FJCCI) Ajay Bhandari while addressing a public hearing conducted by Jharkhand State Electricity Regulatory Commission (JSERC) chairman Arbind Prasad at IMA Hall here.


“It is unbecoming of a public limited company that it doesn't send bills to consumers on time and even fails to collect (payment) for those when sent,” Bhandari said in the presence of JSERC member (technical) R.N. Singh.

For domestic use, JBVNL has proposed an increase to Rs 6 per kWh unit from the existing rate that is between Rs 4.40 and Rs 5.25 per unit.

Similarly, it has called for a uniform fixed charge of Rs 75 against the present charge that varies between Rs 20 and Rs 75.

Tariffs for irrigation and the agriculture sector have been kept untouched at Rs 5 per unit. But for industrial and institutional consumers, JBVNL has proposed a hike to Rs 6 per unit in place of the existing rate that varies between Rs 4 and Rs 5.75 per unit.

Divya Kumari, a college student, spoke of her concerns. “We face frequent power cuts and I have to use lanterns or candles that affect both studies and eyesight,” said the resident of Namkum while opposing the proposal to hike power tariffs.

“We get power for only about four hours a day and my earning is drained out by running generators,” said Om Prakash. who operates an ice factory near Bujupara village in Ranchi district and was one among those from rural areas who opposed the hike.

Earlier, JBVNL chief engineer S.K. Thakur said their proposal for a hike to the JSERC was prepared on the basis of the gap between annual revenue requirement and existing revenue. “The total gap till 2018-19 stands at Rs 11,813 crore,” he said, arguing that the average billing rate across all consumer categories for Jharkhand was Rs 4.78 per unit, which was lower than that in Bihar (Rs 7.82), Madhya Pradesh (Rs 6.03) and Uttar Pradesh (Rs 7.45).

Vice-president of Jharkhand Industries and Trade Association Sushil Kumar Singh argued that such a hike would kill small industrial units. “There are 43 small steel plants in Jharkhand. These were set up under a special category by investing Rs 900 crore. A hike in power tariffs will push these plants to closure and will also hit other units linked to them,” he said.

Vice-president of Adityapur Small Industries Association Ashok Kumar Bihani siad he did not accept the loss claimed by JBVNL. “The CAG report for 2016-17 pointed out there was over statement of loss to the tune of Rs 574.76 crore,” he claimed.

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