Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi on Thursday ruled out power tariff hike for consumers and the withdrawal of free power supply scheme.
There would be no room for agitations (on this issue), the Chief Minister told the Assembly during the debate on the demands for grants to the Energy Department.
Earlier, Law Minister Durai Murugan, who moved the demands on behalf of ailing Electricity Minister Arcot N. Veeraswami, said the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board had recently submitted a tariff revision petition before the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission.
“The current tariff proposal is a small step forward in the direction of correcting the tariff imbalances, affecting the [Tamil Nadu Electricity] Board and making it at least partially financially viable. While submitting the tariff revision petition, utmost care has been taken to spare agriculture and other needy and weaker sections of society from increase in tariff,” the Minister stated.
No tariff hike was proposed for low tension domestic consumers who consumed up to 200 units bi-monthly, hut dwellers, places of worship and power loom weavers. Among high-tension consumers those who had taken power connection for lift irrigation were spared, he said.
The Electricity Act of 2003 provides the scope, under Section 65, for the State government to grant subsidy to any consumer or class of consumers in the tariff determined by the State Electricity Regulatory Commission.
When the government decides to provide subsidy, it has to compensate in advance the power utility concerned in the manner as the State Commission may direct.
Besides, as per sub section 1 of section 108 of the law, the Commission, in its discharge of functions, would be guided by the State government's directions, expressed in writing, on matters of policy involving public interest.
In June 2004, the AIADMK regime had invoked section 108 (1) of the Act and issued a policy directive to the TNERC, restoring concessions in tariff for domestic, agricultural and hut services.