Arvind Kejriwal on Friday alleged connivance between the Delhi Government and power distribution companies that have resulted in wrongful gain for BYPL, BRPL and NDPL and corresponding loss to Delhiites who he said were being forced to pay inordinately high power bills.
Documents accessed through RTI by Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party released to the media at a press conference included a “draft order” prepared by then Delhi Electricity Regulation Commission chairman Brijender Singh in April 2010. The draft order concluded that there was significant surplus revenue available with all the three discoms, and in view of this the DERC had decided to reduce tariffs for all consumer categories.
Mr. Kejriwal said distribution losses had come down from 55 per cent in 2002 when electricity was privatised to 15 per cent in 2010, but instead of reducing tariffs to accommodate this gain, power bills have only gone up.
Mr. Kejriwal alleged that the discoms projected a loss of Rs.630 crore for 2010-11 before the DERC and wanted an increase in power tariffs to recover this loss. “Brijender Singh concluded that the discoms would make a profit of Rs.3,577 crore from sale of surplus power. He advocated that instead tariffs could be reduced by 23 per cent,” Mr. Kejriwal said.
“The reduction in tariff is likely to be sustained in the future years as well, since the energy availability from new power plants is going to increase substantially. The quantum of surplus energy available for sale is likely to be significantly higher than the available quantum during FY 2010-11. This will make a substantial surplus in the hands of the petitioner. Therefore the reduction in tariff is appropriate not only for FY2010-11 but is mostly likely to continue (or get reduced further) in subsequent years,” the April 2010 draft order by Mr. Singh said.
According to an AAP statement, Mr. Singh had approved the sale of surplus power at the rate of Rs.5.75 per unit for FY2010-11. AAP alleged that the discoms were selling the surplus power at high prices but declaring low prices and much lesser power in their books. Mr. Singh’s prescription would have generated a total revenue of Rs.12,192.34 crore and a net surplus of Rs.3,577.91 crore for the three discoms, the AAP statement said.
The DERC had concluded that a total surplus power of 580 crore units were available with BSES Yamuna Power Limited (BYPL), 896.71 crore units with BSES Rajdhani Power Limited (BRPL) and 644.61 crore units with NDPL.
However, before the order could be passed, the Delhi Government wrote to Mr. Singh on May 4, 2010, restraining him till the matter of tariff reduction was examined by it. The letter written by the Delhi Joint Secretary (Power) said the three discoms had complained about their precarious financial position, accumulation of revenue gaps beyond sustainable levels, cost of power purchase, continuous recourse to additional debt to finance operation, and critical need for additional financing.
This was despite the DERC finding that BRPL would achieve a net surplus of Rs.1,027.48 crore in FY2010-11 and the corresponding figure for NDPL was Rs.977.99 crore from the sale of surplus power according to a DERC document released by AAP.
Lawyer Prashant Bhushan moved the Delhi High Court against the Delhi Government move blocking the DERC order and the court asked it not to intervene anymore. “But the tariff reduction order could not be passed as Brijender Singh retired and the new DERC chairperson P. D. Sudhakar increased tariffs by 22 per cent in 2011 and 32 per cent in 2012,” Mr. Kejriwal said.
The AAP demanded that Mr. Singh’s draft order should be implemented and tariffs reduced, that a performance and financial audit should be done on the discoms by the CAG, that tariff orders of the past two years should be scrapped, excess money charged from consumers be refunded, and that FIRs be lodged against the discoms for allegedly fudging records.