It is being levied for the first time since the inception of the Union Territory

Even as the power tariff hike for the year 2013-14 has received strong reactions from consumers, the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission (JERC) has ordered the Puducherry Electricity Department (PED) to collect 10 per cent surcharge on total bill amount from all type of consumers.

This is the first time power surcharge is being levied since the inception of Union Territory of Puducherry. The move is expected to generate Rs. 107 crore in revenue during the current year to the Puducherry Electricity Department, say officials.

Asked about the rationale behind the 10 per cent surcharge, D. Ravi, Superintending Engineer-III, PED, told The Hindu that the Commission had imposed the surcharge to bridge the shortage of Rs. 320 crore, which has to be realised from the consumers within three years. In the first year (2013-14), it is expected to to realise one third of the amount.

Moreover, the PED has been directed to be self-sufficient and take care of the power cost, including purchase cost, staff salary, research and maintenance and therefore it has no other option except to tap the consumers, officials say.

The portion of power tariff hike, which works out to an average of 26.48 per cent across the board, is expected to generate Rs. 220 crore. An analysis of the recent power tariff revision revealed that more burden was being imposed on domestic consumers than others. The average tariff hike on domestic consumers was 57 per cent. And, they will have to shell out 10 per cent more on total bill amount on account of the surcharge.

The hike in energy charge for the commercial consumers will be 26 per cent. It is 50 per cent for temporary connections. Similarly, the tariff for public lights, High Tension-A, B and C category consumers had been hiked by 18 to 35 per cent.

Sources in the department said that domestic category was generally untouched in Puducherry whenever the revision was effected till 2009-10. It was only after that charges had been increased gradually. The charges on power usage by the consumers of other categories had already stabilised. This year tariff would stabilise for domestic consumers also.

Department sources further said there was absolutely no chance to reduce tariff as the PED has to obey the order of JERC in total. However, if the consumers felt that the charges were high, they could approach the appellate authority for rate reduction.

Reacting, A. Anbazhagan, AIADMK floor leader, said it was a big blow to the people of Puducherry.