The Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) will direct electricity supply companies in the State to ensure that power supply for irrigation purposes is provided only between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
“A direction in this regard would be included in the tariff order to be passed in April,” said Commission Chairman M.K. Shankaralinge Gowda at the public hearing on Mangalore Electricity Supply Company’s power tariff hike proposal here. A number of participants raised the issue saying farmers were severely inconvenienced following power supply in the night and many have lost life due to drowning, snake bite and such other causes.
Mr. Gowda said Mescom has sought ₹1.23 hike while Gescom has sought ₹1.63, Chescom ₹1.3, Hescom ₹1.4 and Bescom has sought ₹ 0.83 hike.
Mescom Managing Director Ramakrishna said the company would face a shortfall of ₹300 crore even after balancing revenue and expenditure and hence tariff hike proposal.
In farmers' name
General secretary of Bharatiya Kissan Sangha, Udupi, Satyanarayana Udupa suspected major scam in subsidy for irrigation purposes and said ESCOMs across the State were claiming reimbursement from the government even though thousands of irrigation pumpsets are not energised. At least ₹3,000 crore is being misused every year, he alleged.
Demanding a high-level probe on the issue, Mr. Udupa said farmers did not seek free power; but governments resorted to the same. What farmers need is fair price for their produce commensurate to cost of production, he said.
A consumer from Kadur urged KERC to direct Mescom to compel all its employees to wear identity cards so as to distinguish them from contractors. The contractor-official nexus has severely been affecting consumers, he alleged, and asked KERC to direct Mescom to interact directly with consumers instead of through contractors.
Even honest officials are unable to render good service because of contractors, he alleged.
Senior Section Engineer (Electrical) from Konkan Railway Corporation S.S. Gunjal said Mescom is demanding hefty deposits (₹1.25 crore each) for proposed substations at Senapura, Barkur and Mulki for the Railway electrification project.
While the Prime Minister has set 2025 deadline for completing electrification of all Railway lines in the country, KRCL is expected to complete its part by March next. Even the Karnataka government is providing ₹30 crore for the project, he said adding paying deposits would mean reduction in government grants.
S.S. Kamath, Gaurav Hegde and B.A. Nazeer from MSME sector urged KERC to order reduction in tariff for small industries by Re. 1 in view of pathetic condition of the sector.