New Delhi July 4 (IANS) The recent hike in power tariff, the fourth by the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) in the past 10 months, is forcing many in the national capital to keep their electrical appliances switched off.
"The hike in power tariff will have an exponential impact on middle class people like us. In this hot weather, we are switching off our ACs in order to minimise the use of electricity," said Geeta Parmar, a resident of Mehrauli in south Delhi.
An average over-20 percent hike in power tariff for homes came into effect Sunday.
The domestic consumer will be charged Rs.3.70 per unit for the first 200 units of power instead of the current Rs.3. For the next 200 units, the consumers will have to pay Rs.4.80 per unit. For consumption above 400 units, Rs.6.40 per unit will be charged instead of the current Rs.5.70.
"It is the middle class and the poor who have been hit hard by the steep hike. On an average, every middle class householder easily consumes 500 to 600 units monthly during the summer, as most homes run air-conditioners or coolers," Ved Prakash Gupta, a former councillor, told IANS.
The Delhi government Monday provided a subsidy on power consumption up to 200 units.
"The cabinet has decided to continue to give subsidy on the consumption of up to 200 power units. Instead of paying Rs.3.70 the consumers will pay Rs.2.70 per unit. The subsidy will not be applicable to those consumers whose power consumption will cross 200 units," Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit said Monday.
Dikshit justified the rise in power rates and noted that the power charges in neighbouring cities (Noida, Gurgaon, Ghaziabad) are much higher than those in Delhi.
The Resident Welfare Associations (RWA), which have been voicing protests against the previous hikes, have demanded a rollback of the latest hike.
"Sheila Dikshit should listen to our demands. We will also organise a demonstration to demand a rollback. Dikshit seems to be unaware of the problems confronting the people," Anil Bajpai, president, east Delhi RWA Federation, said.
"The consumers are fleeced in some or the other way by the government. Our monthly expenses are getting higher and higher. The government seem to be insensitive," Anita Jha, a nurse in a government hospital, protested.
"The government should work for the welfare of the people. But it is working in completely the opposite manner. There should be an end to monopoly. Assurance was given for 24X7 power supply but this can't be seen anywhere," Rajiv Kakria, member, RWA Greater Kailash in south Delhi, told IANS.
"The transformers have not been replaced since years, there is power shortage for over three to four hours a day, but our chief minister is not willing to see the problems of the people. She has become insensitive and just cares for her vote bank," Kakria added.
Meanwhile, Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Vijender Gupta said, "This power hike is anti-people and is totally unjustified. We are demanding a roll back."
The Delhi BJP has planned a conference with the RWA representatives August 4.
Dikshit's "statements and reasons for the power hike are vague," Gupta added.