The Tamil Nadu Generation and Distribution Corporation (Tangedco) drew flak at the public hearing, especially from a group of youngsters, agitated over the severe power cuts prevailing in the State. A strong contingent of youth, most of them members of People’s Arts and Literary Association and their affiliate organisations, was critical of the public hearing conducted by the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC). “This is nothing but an eyewash. You do know it very well that people will be opposed to any hike in general. Will you accept our arguments? Will you be able to reduce the power tariff?” asked Cauverynathan, a youth. He contended that farmers are entitled to free power as a right as the government has the duty to provide the infrastructure for irrigation.

The youth, including several women, felt it was a cruel joke that people’s opinion was sought before being punished. Instead of holding the hearing in a meeting hall, the commission should go to the suffering masses, they said. “Women are literally in tears in rural areas as they are struggling with their chores and work in view of the severe power cuts. Students are unable to study. Why don’t you hear their voices?” said a young woman. Some of the youth strongly accused the Tangedco of favouring private players by producing power from private power plants.

Responding to their views, S.Nagalsamy, member, TNERC, said the commission could act only within the framework of powers conferred on it. “The Tangedco and the Tantransco have filed their revision petitions and we are here to hear your views before passing orders. But very few among you spoke about the petitions. If you present your arguments against the petitions, we will take them into account,” he said.

K.Venugopal, member, TNERC, said the orders passed by the commission were not final and aggrieved consumers could approach the two appellate authorities. He also said the commission was seized of the demand for equitable supply to all parts of the State.

The public hearing was conducted by the two members along with S.Gunasekaran, secretary, TNERC, as the post of chairman lies vacant.