TNERC holds public hearing on tariff revision

Farmers and power consumers strongly opposed the propose hike in fixed charges for agriculture and hut services even if it were to be subsidised by the government and contended that no hike should be permitted until the Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) was able to provide uninterrupted power supply.

Speaking at the public hearing called by the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission on tariff revision petitions filed by Tangedco and Tantransco (Tamil Nadu Transmission Corporation) here on Wednesday, farmers and consumers complained over the severe power cuts enforced across the State, especially in the rural areas. Farmers alleged that they were getting only three hours of supply, aggravating the problem faced by them due to the monsoon failure and drop in the water table.

The Tangedco’s petition seeks to increase the fixed charges for agriculture and hut services, both of which are to be met out of subsidy from the State government. The fixed monthly charges for huts are proposed to be increased from Rs.60 to Rs.125 and the fixed charges for agricultural connections are to be raised to Rs.2, 500 from Rs.1,750 a horse power per annum.

“You are targeting the underprivileged sections and it will spell trouble for farmers and hutment dwellers in future. Even if the government is to bear the hike, it is the taxpayers’ money that is given as subsidy. The hike will ultimately be pushed on to consumers in one way or other,” said Ayilai Sivasuriyan, district secretary of the Tamil Nadu Vivasayigal Sangam, affiliated to the CPI.

“It is heartening to note that the State government has come forward to bear the proposed hike by way of subsidy. But we hope there is no hidden agenda to indirectly impact on the free power supplied to farmers,” said P.Ayyakannu, State secretary, Bharathiya Kisan Sangam.

He and M.P.Chinnadurai of Tamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam argued that the power given to farmers cannot be considered free as they were not given remunerative prices for their produce. K.Suresh, city secretary, CPI, criticised the Tangedco for failing to ensure equitable supply of the available power. N.Ramakrishnan, a civic activist, said consumers in the State, except those in Chennai, were facing 12 hours of power cuts and this has also adversely affected agriculture production.

G.Rajagopal, Director (Finance), Tangedco, in his response, said power cuts in the State will be gradually reduced from June onwards and fully eliminated by December. The current demand-supply gap of about 4,000 to 4,500 MW would be bridged largely by the end of this year as the State is expected to get about 4,000 MW of additional power, including supply from the Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant. The State government was also taking steps to tap solar energy to the extent of 3,000 MW. It is also going in for a 3,300 MW supercritical thermal power plant. Steps were also being taken to reduce transmission and distribution losses. Every year about 100 to 120 new sub-stations are being established and distribution strengthening works have been taken up now in 110 places. There was no shortage of meters now as steps have been taken to purchase them in adequate numbers, he said.