Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi said the electricity tariff hike would affect only “those who could bear it.”

In a statement here on Sunday, he said that the Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC) had suggested the increase in tariff for those households consuming over 200 units [for two months] but he had intervened and suggested that the there should be no hike for those consuming fewer than 600 units.

“The number of households consuming over 600 units in the State is 3.21 lakh. Only for these households the tariff has been hiked by Re. 1 for each unit. The hike has been effected for only 3.21 lakh households…which is less than 3 per cent and that too after seven years,” Mr. Karunanidhi said.

Even the three lakh households affected by the hike were those who used air-conditioners, refrigerators, washing machines and other gadgets extensively.

He cited the electricity tariffs for other States and said the per unit tariff of Rs. 2.85 for domestic consumers in the State was much lower than the charge of Rs. 3.39 in Kerala, Rs. 4.83 in Maharashtra, Rs. 3.57 in West Bengal, Rs. 3.15 in Uttar Pradesh, Rs. 4.02 in Karnataka, Rs. 3.51 in Andhra Pradesh, Rs. 3.64 in Gujarat, Rs. 3.68 in New Delhi.

Responding to criticism that the government should look at other measures such as reducing distribution losses and completing new projects faster, the Chief Minister said the distribution loss in Tamil Nadu was the second lowest in the country after New Delhi.

In reply to PMK founder S. Ramadoss's statement that the distribution losses had increased from 18.3 per cent in 2008-2009 to 18.9 per cent in the current year, he said the all-India figure for distribution losses was 38 per cent. The State government was working to reduce the distribution losses even further, he said. He said that increasing electricity generation projects could not be completed overnight and that the government was working towards it.

Reiterating that the measure was not permanent, Mr. Karunanidhi said the tariffs would be revised “once the situation improved.”