The political war of words over power subsidy continued with Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Saturday reiterating that a conspiracy was being hatched to stop the scheme of free electricity up to 200 units provided by the Delhi government.
“A conspiracy is being hatched to stop the free electricity scheme in Delhi. But we will not allow it to succeed. Kejriwal will be standing like a rock for the rights of the people of Delhi. L-G sir, please do not say later that ‘boundaries’ are being breached,” Mr. Kejriwal said in a tweet.
Hitting back, the BJP said that allegations levelled by Mr. Kejriwal and Power Minister Atishi are nothing but a ploy to divert the public’s attention from “corruption” by AAP Ministers.
On Friday, Ms. Atishi had said in the Assembly that the Chief Secretary and the Power Secretary, in connivance with the L-G, were trying to discontinue the scheme. Earlier this month, she had said the Delhi government will continue to provide the existing subsidies, irrespective of the consumers’ sanctioned load. She also dismissed media reports that power subsidies would be given only to consumers whose connections were within the sanctioned load of 3KW.
She said the Capital’s power regulator, Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC), had issued statutory advice to the Delhi government in 2020, asking it to consider restricting power subsidies to 3KW. However, the power regulator withdrew the advisory on January 6 this year, saying the issue of power subsidies fell outside its domain. The Minister’s office also shared a copy of a signed letter from the DERC chairman, in which it was said that the statutory advice given to the government “appears not to be as per law and without jurisdiction” and such an order “cannot stand the scrutiny of the law and is hereby recalled”.
Ms. Atishi made the statements and released the letter two days after Raj Niwas sources said the L-G has asked the Chief Secretary to direct the Power Department to place DERC’s suggestion on limiting the subsidy to 3KW before the Council of Ministers and take a decision within 15 days. Providing the subsidy to people whose load capacity is below 3KW would save the government around ₹300 crore a year, the letter purportedly said.
On Friday, Ms. Atishi had said “an important file from the L-G’s office on power subsidy was to be presented before the Cabinet within 15 days, but it has not reached the Cabinet even after 14 days. Instead of being sent to the CM and the Power Minister, that file is doing the rounds of the offices of the Chief Secretary and the Power Secretary”.
‘Poor who deserve’
While the L-G’s office did not officially respond to the allegations, a Raj Niwas source said the L-G in none of his communications has suggested, let alone asked, the AAP government to withdraw the subsidies. He has repeatedly asked for subsidies to be given to the poor who are deserving. “The CS has submitted a report to the CM and the L-G, pointing out that the Power Department is not following the DERC’s statutory advice on subsidies being paid to the discoms. The L-G, in his note, asked the CS to bring this violation to the notice of the CM and get the Cabinet to decide on the issue,” the source at the L-G office said.
Delhi BJP chief Virendra Sachdeva said power subsidy is nothing more than a “vote bank scheme” of the AAP government and Mr. Kejriwal now wants consumers to beg for free electricity every few months.