Poll panel tells KERC to defer tariff order, court stays digitisation till April 1

Thursday was a good day for consumers on two counts. At least for the time being they don’t have to fork out more for electricity and they don’t have to scrabble around for a set-top box.

In the first instance, it was the election code of conduct that came to their rescue as the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) put on hold the power tariff revision.

The State power regulator, which was expected to issue the tariff order on Thursday, deferred it following a communication in this regard by the Election Commission seeking details on the tariff structure and the proposed hike. The KERC is now awaiting “further communication” from the commission to pronounce the tariff order.

Taking reporters by surprise at a press conference here, KERC Chairperson M.R. Srinivas Murthy said that the regulatory body was “going by the advice of the Election Commission”.

“We received the communication (to put the hike on hold) today. As the [model] code of conduct is in place, we have been asked to wait (for pronouncing the order). We will wait for further communication.”

All the five electricity supply companies (escoms) in the State had petitioned the KERC seeking tariff revision. But any such move would have political repercussions, particularly in view of the May 5 Assembly elections.

The last revision was effected on April 30, 2012 when the tariff was hiked by an average 13 paise a unit.

Chief Electoral officer Anil Kumar Jha told presspersons: “The Election Commission expects to hear form the KERC in the next two to three days.”

Asked if the deferment was political, he said it wasn’t.

Set-top boxes

Meanwhile, in a temporary relief to both television viewers as well as local cable operators, the Karnataka High Court on Thursday asked the authorities not to discontinue existing analog signals for televisions in Bangalore city till April 1.

Justice S. Abdul Nazeer passed the interim order after hearing a petition filed by the Karnataka Cable Television Operators Association questioning the March 31, 2013 deadline to switch over to digital telecast through set-top boxes. Ordering a notice to the Union Ministries of Communication and Technology and Information and Broadcasting, the court posted further hearing on April 1 when a similar petition filed earlier by a Mysore cable operators’ association would also come up for hearing.

In their petition, cable operators said it was logistically impossible to adhere to the March 31 deadline for digitisation.

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