The Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday staged a demonstration near the Delhi Assembly to protest against the nearly 22 per cent hike in power tariff announced by the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission. Demanding a rollback, the party also sought an audit of the accounts of private distribution companies by the Comptroller and Auditor General.
Leading the protest, State unit president Vijender Gupta said the Delhi Government should immediately rollback the hike, that comes into effect from September 1, to provide relief to the people already reeling under a sharp surge in prices of all commodities.
Mr. Gupta also declared that the BJP would continue its protest against corruption, both within and outside the Delhi Assembly, till the time a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation is ordered against Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in view of the findings of the CAG and the Shunglu Committee into the Commonwealth Games preparations.
Almost the entire Delhi BJP leadership, including Leader of Opposition in Delhi Assembly Vijay Kumar Malhotra, BJP national general secretary Vijay Goel, party co-in charge Navjot Singh Sidhu, and a large number of legislators and office-bearers participated in the protest.
Mr. Gupta said the former DERC chairman had upon examination of the Aggregate Revenue Requirement (ARR) of the private power companies found they had earned a profit of Rs.6,000 crore last year. “On this basis, he did not allow the power tariff to be increased.''
Noting that Delhi Government was also providing subsidy worth crores of rupees every year to these power companies, he said there was no justification for a hike in power tariff in this scenario. Still, “the new DERC chairman had put the burden of the 22 per cent increase in power tariff on the people of Delhi,” he said, alleging that this had been done at the behest of Ms. Dikshit and private power companies.
The BJP leader also cautioned that due to the hike in power tariff, prices of all the commodities and services, including the Metro rail, would go up further and it would become even more difficult for the poor to eke out a living. This, he said, could lead to forced migration out of Delhi, and in turn impact the trade and business in Delhi.
Professor Malhotra said when the power was privatised in 2002, Ms. Dikshit had stated that the move would benefit the people. “What we see is that it is not the people, but only power companies that have benefited.”
Mr. Goel spoke about how the Delhi Government has gone back on every promise it had made when power was privatised. He said people have not been given the benefit of reduction in theft, and have instead been victimised through fast-running meters.