The power tariff hike has provoked criticism from different sections of society such as political parties, industries, educational institutions and high-end domestic consumers.The Opposition parties say that the hike has come when people are already reeling under the impact of increase in the prices of essential commodities. Losses suffered by the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board can be brought down by improving the management of the utility and expeditious completion of various power generation projects.
Pattali Makkal Katchi founder S. Ramadoss says that the Board should explain whether the tariff will be reduced in the event of decline in revenue gap. Communist Party of India (Marxist) State Secretary G. Ramakrishnan says the move will affect those living in rented houses. According to Desiya Murpokku Dravida Kazhagam founder Vijayakanth, the hike has to be withdrawn because it will affect the industrial growth of the State.
Mahendra Ramdas, President of the Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Coimbatore, says the power tariff should be such that it should not affect the international competitiveness of industries. “The industrial and commercial segments continue to bear the brunt of cross subsidy. There is no justification for the hike now,” he says.
M. Kandhaswami, president of Coimbatore District Small Industries Association, says the hike would be an additional burden to the small and medium-scale industries.
N. Vijayan, general secretary, Federation of Matriculation Schools' Associations in Tamil Nadu, says that an increase of Re. 1 per unit would affect the private schools. Only recently, a fee structure was announced taking into consideration all the expenses. Moreover, many schools have gone in for smart class room technology, which involves more electricity consumption.
V. Rajagopal, resident of Anna Nagar West Extension here, says the tariff revision is a blow to the middle and upper-class people. Air conditioners have now become a necessity, which consumes more energy. So, the increase would only add to the power bill.
However, S. Kabilan, chairperson, Tamil Nadu Electricity Regulatory Commission (TNERC) justifies the hike and says it is overdue. The hike is being made after a gap of seven and a half years.
The Commission is concerned with the state of the health of the Tamil Nadu Electricity Board (TNEB). “Its balance sheet is awful,” Mr Kabilan points out. Unless the Board is healthy enough to serve consumers, it will not be able to take up new projects. .Even the present hike will only partially offset the revenue gap. For the current year, the gap is expected to be Rs. 6,451 crore, Mr Kabilan adds.