The Delhi Government, which has been promising regularisation and development of unauthorised colonies, is conspicuously silent on who will pay for electrification of areas that have been left out so far.
More than a year ago, the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) had suggested that either the Delhi Government pick up the tab or work out a package to prevent the costs from being passed on to the consumers. The issue continues to hang fire as there is no agreement on who will foot the bill despite a consensus on the need to carry out the work.
The DERC’s contention was borne out of its concern that consumers across the city should not have to bear the burden of the electrification work. In a communication to the Delhi Government, it had specified that either consumers in these areas pay for the work or the government make a special grant, especially in the case of jhuggi-jhonpri clusters, which will help prevent expenses from being added to the capital expenses of discoms, which eventually get reflected in tariff petitions. The DERC had also suggested that just as residents in unauthorised colonies pay for the laying of sewer lines in their areas, they could also be asked to pay for the electrification work.
“ But even a year after the suggestion was made, the Commission has still not heard from the government,” said a DERC official.
The Delhi Government had hinted earlier that discoms may foot the bill and later claim it as part of capital expenditure spending, but with the DERC having played the consumer-interest card, the government is now in a bind.
The discoms, for their part, have agreed to carry out the work, but have demanded clarity on who will pay for it.
“We are ready to carry out the work, but we want assurance that the capital expenses will be recognised by the DERC. We cannot spend money and then run around for reimbursement,” said a discom official.
While most unauthorised colonies already have power supply, there are several areas where work is yet to be carried out or needs upgrading.
“There is need to install and upgrade infrastructure like transformers, conductors and high tension wires in colonies that have been regularised. In planned areas, developed by agencies like the Delhi Development Authority or the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, these payments were made by developers, but there is ambiguity on the issue in unauthorised colonies,” the official added.