200 protesters bodily lifted and bundled into police vans
Angry scenes, intermittent disruptions and full-throated slogans rocked the public hearing on Thursday by AP Electricity Regulatory Commission (APERC) on Eastern Power Distribution Company’s proposal to increase power tariff by Rs.2,851 crore.
Amid heavy bandobust, all the lanes leading to the air-conditioned AMCOSA auditorium were cordoned off by the police and only on revealing the identity, people were allowed to proceed towards the venue.
The hearing, held by installing surveillance cameras, coincided with two-day general strike against price-rise and other demands by the Central trade unions.
To thwart attempts to disrupt the proceedings, nearly 200 protesters from TDP, CPI, CPI (M) and other outfits were bodily lifted and bundled into waiting vans by policemen, who were present in mufti in large numbers.
Raising slogans like ‘APERC go back’ and ‘rollback already hiked power tariff,’ the protesters squatted in front of the venue.
Tension mounted as they blocked the car with red beacon belonging to APERC Chairman A. Raghottam Rao. With great difficulty he was escorted into the venue by the policemen.
APERC is holding public hearings at various places to discuss the proposals made by four distribution companies to increase power tariff to different categories of consumers, which on an average, works out to be 42 per cent by imposing an additional burden of Rs.12,720 crore.
There was severe criticism over reintroduction of non-telescopic system of tariffs. The protesters said this would affect all sections of people consuming more than 50 units.
The hearing began with a presentation and the need to enhance tariff by EPDCL Chairman-cum-Managing Director Ahmed Nadeem.
CPI activists led by district secretary J.V. Satyanarayana Murthy were the first to be arrested by the police.
This was followed by the arrest of TDP State vice-president Bandaru Satyanarayana Murthy, urban district president Vasupalli Ganesh Kumar and others who tried to stall the ‘anti-people’ tariff proposals by the State government.
As part of new strategy, the group by CPI (M) led by district secretary Ch. Narsinga Rao and B. Ganga Rao, spoke at length against the tariff proposals and later courted arrest demanding cancellation of the public hearing in deference to vox populi.