Power sops may be back

Dept seeks Rs 600 cr subsidy to revive Kejri scheme

Once again, the Delhi government is preparing to give a subsidy to power consumers and lower their monthly electricity bills. 

The power department has sought making a provision of Rs 600 crore in the 2014-15 city budget to revive the sops offered to consumer by the Arvind Kejriwal and Sheila Dikshit government earlier. 

“The subsidy proposal has been sent to the revenue department,” said a senior power department official.

If approved, the proposal would be incorporated in the city’s budget which is likely to be passed by the Central government in the current Parliament session, he said.

The proposal for reviving the power bill subsidy, which ended on March 31, is also being seen as a move approved by the BJP-led Central government to counter the AAP’s new political campaign in which the new party is highlighting its former state government’s decision to give power subsidy to consumers. 

Sources in the Delhi BJP said party leaders were mindful of the radio ad campaign launched by the AAP in which Kejriwal government’s decision on power subsidy is being underscored.

“If the power subsidy is revived now, it could help the BJP take credit for it,” said a north Delhi legislator, hinting at the political gains from the move in the possible Assembly polls.

The Aam Aadmi Party government led by Kejriwal had announced a 50 per cent subsidy on power consumption up to 400 units in December last year. The benefit continued only till March 31 and the consumers’ bills doubled from April 1.

Earlier, the Congress government led by Dikshit had given a subsidy in August 2013 for consumers using power in the slabs of 0-200 units and 201-400 units in one month.

In the last few days of the AAP government, Kejriwal had moved a bill in the Delhi Assembly for continuing the power subsidy and the bill was supported by the Congress legislators. This legislation helped the government to continue the power subsidy till March 31, even after the AAP government fell on February 14.

A Delhi government official said the budget would be finalised in the next 15 days and the only chance to revive the power subsidy was through their proposal sent to the revenue department.

Power distribution companies have been seeking a hike in electricity rates from August 1. 

“If the power regulator accepts their demand, the power bills of consumers may shoot up. The provision for subsidy would help soften the blow to the consumers,” said an official.

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