Adds that the increase was effected at the insistence of the Centre

Responding to allegations that the Puducherry Electricity Department was paying 98 paise per unit to purchase electricity but was selling it to the consumer at Rs. 3, Electricity Minister T. Thiagarajan said the actual cost to the department was Rs. 4.40 per unit. Addressing the press here on Monday, Mr. Thiagarajan said the department was actually paying Rs. 3.18 per unit to the generating stations. Along with transmission cost, the amount was Rs. 3.30. The cost to the department, including line loss, employee costs and other factors worked out to Rs. 4.40 per unit but the customers pay only Rs. 3, he said. Since the department had not changed the tariff for the past eight or 10 years, it was constrained to hike power tariff. Further, the rate of electricity in Puducherry was much lower than neighbouring States even after the hike, he said. The power hike was effected at the insistence of the Centre and not the UT government, he clarified. For years, every time the Planning Commission met with officials from Puducherry, the first thing they asked was whether the government had power increased tariff, he noted.

The Puducherry government could not be directly held responsible for the power tariff hike as it was effected as per the guidelines set by the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission, he pointed out.

On Sunday, Union Minister of State for the Prime Minister’s Office V. Narayanasamy, demanding a rollback of the electricity tariff hike, had announced that the Puducherry Congress Committee would hold agitations if it was not withdrawn by June 15.

In his argument for the rollback, Mr. Narayanasamy had claimed that the government was buying electricity at 98 paise from the Central grid and the Neyveli Lignite Corporation and in return was selling it to the public at Rs. 3 per unit.

This, he had argued, was not acceptable as it had increased the burden on the common man who was already faced with increased VAT and bus fare hike.

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