Protests against the power tariffs in the city are gaining ground with National Advisory Council member and activist Aruna Roy joining in with the demand for an audit of the discoms by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India and environment watchdog Greenpeace taking on the Delhi Government for failing to have a policy on alternate sources of energy.
On Monday, the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) issued a statement signed by Ms. Roy, Nikhil Dey and Shankar Singh in support of the ongoing hunger strike by Arvind Kejriwal of the Aam Aadmi Party against irregularities in the power sector.
The MKSS made a reference to Mr. Kejriwal’s accusations against the discoms, the government and the regulator and sought a CAG investigation.
“Backed by documents, serious charges have been made showing possible collusion between authorities in the government, the discoms and the regulator resulting in corrupt practices, and arbitrarily high tariffs for the consumer. These warrant immediate and detailed enquiry and investigation by an independent and competent body,” the statement read.
The MKSS has alleged that it is “evident that the regulatory process has failed to provide adequate resolution to this issue -- both in fact and in appearance” and the litigation by discoms to avoid RTI scrutiny and CAG audit, “invites further questions”.
“It would therefore be appropriate if the Government were to immediately ask the CAG to conduct a special audit of electricity and water supply in Delhi and make the findings public in a fixed and short time frame. The findings of the audit should also be taken to their logical conclusion resulting in legal and corrective action if and where necessary. If it is found that tariffs were arbitrarily and unjustifiably increased, not only should they be reduced and rationalised, but consumers should be given credit for past cases of overcharging, and the discoms must be made to pay back unwarranted profits,” the MKSS has demanded.
The government’s failure to press for renewable sources of energy generation also came in for criticism with Greenpeace staging a protest in front of the Delhi Assembly earlier in the day.
The watchdog criticised the Delhi Government for promising “uninterrupted electricity supply to the people, this summer, without having any concrete plan”.
The protesters said the city will suffer in the coming summer due to the State’s overdependence on coal. “Delhi Government and, in particular, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, who is going for election later this year to seek an unprecedented fourth term, should understand that the real solution to power crisis in Delhi does not lie in being over dependent on technologies based on coal, which is becoming expensive, but increasing investment in renewable energy like solar and biomass to create sustainable future and long-lasting energy infrastructure for the State,” said Abhishek Pratap, senior energy campaigner, Greenpeace India.
The organisation claims that with over 75 per cent of Delhi’s electricity coming from coal-based thermal power plants, which are mostly situated in other States, the city is unlikely to get an uninterrupted supply.