69 lakh of 85 lakh domestic consumers in the State to get the benefit

The Kerala Cabinet on Wednesday decided to exempt single phase domestic consumers using up to 120 units of electricity a month from the power tariff hike announced last week. The fixed charge of Rs.20 would also be waived besides the hike in tariff for power used for agriculture purposes.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy told the media after a Cabinet meeting that the government would provide Rs.294.66 crore a year as subsidy to the Kerala State Electricity Board to meet its deficit on reduction of the tariff. As much as 69 lakh of the 85 lakh domestic consumers in the State, falling in the first three billing slabs, would benefit from the decision.

While the charges payable by consumers falling in the first slab had been increased by 35 paise a unit on the basis of an order from the Kerala State Electricity Regulatory Commission last week, consumers in the second and third slabs faced an increase of 50 paise a unit. Mr. Chandy said the KSEB would lose Rs.175.57 crore a year from the rollback. The loss of revenue from the waiver of fixed charge and hike in tariff for agriculture would be Rs.97.15 crore and Rs.22 crore respectively. The government would have to pay a grant of Rs.25 crore a month to the KSEB to make up for that. The situation would be reviewed after three months.

Memoranda

The Chief Minister said the Cabinet had asked the Ministers in charge of Electricity, Revenue, and Water Resources to prepare memoranda to be submitted to the Centre seeking assistance in view of the shortfall in monsoon rainfall and an impending drought. The Electricity Minister would draw up proposals to increase generation by setting up solar, wind, and mini-hydropower units. The Water Resources Minister would draw up proposals to address drinking water scarcity. The Revenue Minister would coordinate information on crops loss and other damage. A special meeting of the Cabinet on September 9 would consider the proposals.

Mr. Chandy said that IAS officer B. Asok would be reinstated as Vice Chancellor of the University of Animal and Veterinary Sciences. The government had decided not to go in appeal against the court order directing his reinstatement.