Delhiites can avail the free electricity scheme from October only if they opt for it, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced on September 14.
At a press conference in Delhi, he said people can now give a missed call or send a WhatsApp message on 7011311111 from September 14 to avail the free electricity scheme.
With this move, the option to get Delhi government’s power subsidy will no longer be available by default and every year, power consumers will be given an option to continue with power subsidy or not.
At present, those whose power consumption is less than 200 units do not have to pay any electricity charges. Those whose consumption is up to 400 units get a 50% subsidy. In his first offline press conference since formation of AAP government in Delhi in February 2020 after which COVID-19 pandemic forced online briefings, Mr. Kejriwal said many residents were willing to pay their electricity bills in full and wanted an option to give up the power subsidy.
The chief minister, however, clarified that the free electricity scheme will continue for those who demand and apply for it.
He said both physical and electronic methods will be available for people to apply for subsidy.
The government had decided a few months earlier that subsidy will be given to those only who will demand and apply for it.
“In the electronic method, consumers can give a missed call on the phone number 7011311111. They will receive a message with a link, and clicking on this, they will get a form that can be filled up and sent back.
“The number can also be used on WhatsApp by sending ‘Hi’ and a form will be received that can be filled up and sent to apply for subsidy,” he said announcing the phone number.
An official said that around 90% of power consumers in the national capital pay their electricity bills online.
In the physical method, consumers can fill up a form attached with their power bill and submit it at designated collection centres and the subsidy will continue from October 1, the chief minister said.
Those consumers who have got their phone numbers registered for bill payment will be sent messages for applying to get subsidy.
“Within 3 days of registration through physical or electronic method, confirmation will be sent to consumers through SMS or e-mail that subsidy will continue.
“This facility can be availed electronically from today. Those who apply till October 31 will get the subsidy for the month. Those who do not do so will have to pay their bills but they can apply next month to get it.” A comprehensive campaign to inform people about the scheme will be soon started so that no one is uninformed in this regard.
“We will do it once a year so that people can apply to opt for subsidy or withdraw it. I believe those who do not need subsidy will give it up and those who need it will benefit,” Mr. Kejriwal said.
“Delhi people have formed an honest government. Earlier, there were frequent outages in the city but we worked hard and improved infrastructure and stemmed corruption to save government money and ensured free 24 hour electricity,” he said.
“This has happened because of a hardcore honest government in Delhi,” he said and added there are total 58 lakh domestic power consumers in Delhi out of which 47 lakh avail subsidy, including 30 lakh who get zero bills and 16-17 lakh others who get 50 percent subsidy.
“Some people had demanded that they can pay their power bills and they should be given the option to give up their subsidy. It was a genuine demand because subsidy should be given to those only who need it.” Around ₹3,000 is spent on subsidy by the government, Mr. Kejriwal said.
The system has been improved so that it does not crash due to a rush of applicants and the government is planning ways like holding camps to inform people about the new arrangement, he added.
Under the free electricity scheme of AAP government, domestic consumers in Delhi using up to 200 units of power per month are given 100% subsidy. Those consuming up to 400 units are provided 50% or up to ₹800 as subsidy.