Kejriwal brushes aside subsidy burden

Kejriwal brushes aside subsidy burden

About six lakh households will not benefit from the populist move of Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal to halve slash power tariffs across two slabs. The step will also translate into a burden of Rs 200 crore for the new government in the first three months.

The announcement was made by Kejriwal after an hour-long cabinet meeting, held within 24 hours of the ruling party taking the decision to supply 667 litres of piped and metered water free to each household consuming less than 20 kilolitres of water in a month.

Kejriwal said that actual burden of the power tariff cut on the government would be only Rs 61 crore; the rest of the money would be arranged by private power distribution companies (discoms) as arrears.

Earlier in the day, Kejriwal met Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) S K Sharma to discuss the possibility of audit of discoms’ accounts.

“The CAG has agreed for the audit of the accounts of discoms. Now,  we have set a deadline of January 1 for the discoms to know whether they are ready for this or not. By the evening of January 1, we will decide the plans for the audits,” he said.

Asked about a permanent solution to the power tariff problem and relief to consumers of higher slabs, he clarified that the government was hopeful about the CAG audit report.
“You should appreciate that the demand of entire Delhi for a CAG audit of discoms' accounts is going to be fulfilled now. We were surprised to know that everyone (in the earlier government) had said that a Delhi High Court order had barred the audit, but actually it's wrong. No high court order ever stopped CAG from auditing any discom’s account. We hope that the audit will be over soon, and then we can do better in the power sector,” he said.

The BJP questioned the ruling party's decision to take the subsidy route in slashing power bills. “What's new with it?” asked the BJP's leader of legislature party Harsh Vardhan, slamming the decision to use subsidy — which he described as people's money — in paying half the power bills.

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