The city is indeed the pampered capital. Why? For one, the number of hours of disruption in power supply in Bangalore city barely goes beyond three hours; while the rural areas are lucky if they get more than nine hours of power supply.
Conceding this fact, Bangalore Electricity Supply Company (Bescom) spokesperson and Chief General Manager (Corporate Affairs) Anand Naik said that this was because the government had directed the electricity utility to provide 24-hour supply to Bangalore.
This government order has been upheld by the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC).
“That apart, around 50 per cent of Bescom’s 81 lakh consumers are from Bangalore. Industrial and commercial consumers in Bangalore pay a different tariff rate compared to the rural consumers, thus cross subsidising the rural consumers. That is why it is financially viable for Bescom to supply electricity 24 hours to Bangalore,” he said.
This point of view has been posted on Facebook as part of the utility’s transparency initiatives. According to the post, the city is allotted 2000 MW. If the demand goes above 2000 MW, then Bescom overdraws up to 100 MW from the grid. “Bescom does not draw from the allocation of the rural areas.
Bangalore city is not getting it at the cost of rural Karnataka,” the post reads.
However, debunking Bescom’s claims, M.G. Prabhakar, chairperson of the Energy Committee, Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said that except the policy direction given to KERC under Section 108 of the Electricity Act, there are no powers vested in the government to decide the number of hours of supply, quality, quantity and reliability.
“There cannot be any discrimination among consumers in rural and urban areas. Nowhere has this been approved,” he said.
Asked if this disparity in power supply to rural areas affected industries, Mr. Naik said that of the 1.7 lakh industries in the State, around 1.56 lakh are in Bangalore, approximately 10,000 on the city’s outskirts and roughly 2,000 in the rural areas fed by Bescom.
As much as 48 per cent of power is consumed by industries alone.
“Most industries are on express feeders and get 24-hour supply.
Those on rural feeders get only three hours of supply in the day and nine hours in the night.
If there is no shortage, another three hours of supply is added in the day,” he said.
They don’t add up
However, according to Bescom’s tariff filings for 2013-14 before the KERC, the estimated energy requirement is 25,387 mu, of which the industrial consumption is around 5,600 mu.
“This is around 25 per cent of the total power consumption. Even in the previous year, the total consumption of industries was 25 per cent. How can it suddenly increase to 48 per cent?” asked Mr. Prabhakar.