Leader of Opposition Oommen Chandy has called on the State government to extend budgetary support to the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) to write off the latter’s deficit and thereby avert enforcement of thermal surcharge and power restriction.

Speaking at a press conference here on Tuesday, Mr. Chandy said that the government should offer budgetary support for the KSEB to the deficit of Rs. 193 crore. He said that during the previous United Democratic Front Government, the KSEB’s deficit was Rs. 600 crore. The A.K. Antony government government had extended budgetary support to the KSEB then and even withdrawn the decision to hike power tariff following public protest.

The Opposition Leader said that the State government’s decision to impose a thermal surcharge of 25 paise and to charge Rs. 7.25 per unit consumed by domestic consumers in excess of the restricted limit of 300 units was going to increase the burden of the people who were already struggling under price rise. He said that the government had produced manipulated figures before the State Electricity Regulatory Commission for the latter to allow the KSEB to impose the surcharge.

Mr. Chandy also said that the State government for the last four years had not earmarked budgetary allocation for developing electricity infrastructure. When the LDF government had come to power, it revoked the previous UDF government’s decision to slash the tariff by 20 paise per unit. The LDF government had also hiked the power tariff later and then introduced thermal surcharge, he said adding that the government was giving least consideration to the inconvenience being faced by people. The State government was also not properly utilising funds allocated by the Centre under the total electrification scheme, he alleged.

Speaking on the controversial mangrove theme park developed by a CPI(M)-backed society near the Valapattanam bridge, Mr. Chandy said that it was a violation of the Indian Forest Act and Coastal Regulation Zone Act. He also condemned the attack on environmental activists who had staged a protest against the park. The Forest and Tourism Department should jointly initiate steps to protect the mangrove areas, he said adding that the government should have direct control over the mangrove areas.

To a question on the transfer of Superintendent of Police Anup Kuruvila John from here, Mr. Chandy said that though the government could exercise the powers to transfer officials, the controversies surrounding the SP’s transfer could not be ignored. The police could not function properly if it had to do as per the wishes of the ruling party, he said adding that the government should also ensure that justice was done.

Asked about the election in the Congress party in the State, Mr. Chandy said that it would be conducted as per the schedule of the All India Congress Committee. The Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee’s proposal for advancing the election in view of the local body elections in the State was expected to be considered. It was for the party members to decide whether there should be consensus or not in the party election, he said in response to a question and added that no party member would be denied their democratic rights. He also said that the Youth Congress had the rights to say what it wanted to say.

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