CM seeks nod from PM to cancel power deals

Wants authority to scrap 30-yr pacts with discoms
Last Updated 31 August 2015, 02:17 IST

Accusing the previous Delhi governments of harming the city’s interests, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Sunday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to allow his government scrap 30-year agreements with power generators that are forcing the discoms to purchase electricity at a very high rate.

Kejriwal also conceded a delay in his government’s plan to impose penalty on power distribution companies (discoms) for power cuts longer than one hour. “I am told work is still in progress on introducing that scheme,” he said.

Launching an Electricity Bill Dispute Redressal Scheme, Kejriwal said almost half of the 5,000 MW daily power being supplied in the city is bought at the rate of Rs 5.5 per unit due to the purchase agreements of the previous government.

The same power is available at half the rate, but we are forced to buy at a high rate as the Delhi government is bound by the 30-year contracts, he said.

“The Prime Minister has the power to cancel these contracts and I appeal to him to help us buy cheap electricity. There should be no politics on this issue. Delhi should get power at cheap rates,” said Kejriwal.

“We brought the power rates by half on coming to power and the power companies are ready to provide electricity at Rs 2.5 or Rs 3 per unit if we are not forced to buy power at Rs 5.5 per unit,” said Kejriwal.

Conciliatory note
Sharing the dais with officials of the private power distribution companies – that were the target of the AAP ahead of the Assembly elections, the Chief Minister struck a conciliatory note.

“We have no personal ill-will against the discoms. All that we want for the public is that there should round-the-clock power supply and the cost of power should be less,” he said.

Kejriwal’s tone while talking about the discoms was in a contrast to the aggression he has shown earlier while threatening to cancel their licences if they did not lower the power rates and submit documents to the CAG for audits.

“In our government there is no corruption. There was this problem earlier. If the discoms work honestly and there is no corruption, we will work with you for the benefit of people,” Kejriwal said.

However, he warned “if anomalies were found in the system stern action will be taken (against power companies).”

The one-time power amnesty scheme, which was launched in east Delhi's Vinod Nagar in Patparganj constituency, is for those who have complained of inflated bills, tampered billing meters and the ones who had unauthorised connections.

The one-month scheme will benefit about 2.5 lakh households, Kejriwal said.

“I feel no scheme can be better than this. No matter how old the dispute is, those living in jhuggis can pay Rs 250 for a month’s bill to settle it.”

The recent leak of a draft finding of the CAG pointing to an allege Rs 8,000 wrongdoing by discoms found mention in Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia’s address who claimed once the audit is completed the rates of power in the city would come down further.

The Delhi government has 49 per cent stake in the discoms and its attacks on the power companies indirectly mean self-criticism.

The rival parties like the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party have been demanding strict action from Kejriwal against the discoms and denial of any tariff hike in the coming weeks.

(Published 31 August 2015, 02:17 IST)

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