Power tariff hike evokes criticism

Mysore May 9. The increase in power tariff by the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Ltd. (KPTCL) has evoked criticism in Mysore. It has been dubbed "anti-people" and "unscientific".

The KPTCL on Wednesday announced a 16.2 per cent increase in power tariff to raise additional revenue of Rs. 762 crore. The general perception among a section of people and the elected representatives is that the increase in power tariff is unwarranted, and the KPTCL should set its house in order rather than pass on the burden to consumers.

Activists of the JD(S) staged a demonstration here in protest against the increase in power tariff. They shouted slogans against the Congress Government, and threatened to launch an agitation if it failed to withdraw the increase in power tariff.

Activists of the BJP also expressed similar views. Comparing the prevailing power tariff with other States, the BJP leader, B.S. Yediyurappa, said the tariff in the State was the highest.

Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Maharashtra, and Andhra Pradesh provided free power to beneficiaries under the Bhagya Jyoti and other schemes, which were classified under LT (A) A category, whereas in the State, the tariff had been increased from Rs. 10 to Rs. 30, an increase of nearly 200 per cent, he added.

It was pointed out that while domestic lighting did not have fixed charges in neighbouring States, Karnataka not only imposed a fixed charge but also increased it from Rs. 20 per kW to Rs. 30.

The rate per unit of power consumed under the domestic lighting category was also high as it had been increased from Rs. 1.25 to Rs. 2.55. The cost per unit in Tamil Nadu for domestic lighting was Re. one, Rs. 1.23 in Kerala, 0.75 paise in Maharashtra, and Rs. 1.25 in Andhra Pradesh.

The AEH category too did not fare well in the comparison as the tariff per unit of power consumed was Rs. 1.30 in Tamil Nadu, Rs. 1.65 in Kerala, Rs. 1.10 in Maharasthra, and Rs. 2.60 in Andhra Pradesh. However, Karnataka had the dubious distinction of increasing the tariff from Rs. 2.05 to Rs. 3.25.

Mallesh of Raitha Hitharakshna Horata Samiti criticised the Government for "blessing" the increase in power tariff. He said farmers would gherao the KPTCL Chairman and Managing Director, V.P. Baligar, if the corporation failed to withdraw the hike.

He said though the KPTCL claimed that the increase in tariff was only to the tune of 16.2 per cent, calculations proved that in some instances, it was as high as 200 per cent.

In Tamil Nadu, the tariff on irrigation pumpsets was 0.50 paise per unit, whereas it was very high in Karnataka. The Government was following a policy to divide the farmers by imposing different rates for different categories, he alleged.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) criticised the Government for increasing power tariff.

It said it had been campaigning against the proposed increase in power tariff in the State. The party would organise demonstrations in front of KPTCL offices in all district headquarters on May 10.

The Mysore unit of the CPI(M) said the increase in power tariff was unjustified and urged workers, farmers, and representatives of various organisations to participate in the demonstration to be organised by it.

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