The Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) city unit criticized the State Government for going back on its promise that it would extend a subsidy of Rs.175 crore to consumers who use less than 100 units a month. Instead, the Government burdened the poor and middle class with steep hike in power charges, the party alleged.
At a press conference here on Thursday, CPI(M) city secretary Ch. Babu Rao said that the commoner was shocked to see the steep hike in their power bills. In some cases, the hike touched 80 per cent also. A consumer, for instance, who used to get Rs.72.50 bill for consuming 50 units (less than 500 watt load), has to cough up Rs.130 now for the same consumption. In non-domestic sector, a petty trader who used to pay Rs.192 for 50 units has to pay Rs.300 now, he explained.
The tariff hike was a burden of Rs.125 crore on the city and Rs.4,400 crore in the State. Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy announced that a subsidy of Rs.175 crore would benefit 44 lakh consumers across the State. His tall promises, however, did not translate into reality, the CPI(M) leader alleged, adding, the CPI(M) would launch a massive agitation in the city shortly.
CPI(M) leader Donepudi Kasinath and others were present.
The power distribution companies also increased the surcharge on delayed payments. It used to be five paise for every Rs.100. Now the minimum penalty is Rs.25. The reconnection charges are up by Rs.25 from Rs.50 to Rs.75. In addition, the eSeva centres charge Rs.5 to Rs.25 depending upon the billed amount. The power companies are not providing connections below 500 W load and insisting on taking 1000 W load connections, he alleged.
The SPDCL hiked the tariff for street lighting and other public utilities also. The Vijayawada Municipal Corporation (VMC) used to incur an expenditure of Rs.10 crore on power till recently but it would not be less than Rs.12.5 crore hereafter, he said.