KARNATAKA

Consumers oppose power tariff hike proposal

Eliciting opinion: The public hearing convened by the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission in progress in Mysore on Tuesday.   | Photo Credit: — PHOTO: M.A. SRIRAM

Special Correspondent

KERC Chairman receives over 150 objections during public hearing



‘Power tariff hike will be a crippling blow to the industrial sector already reeling in crisis’

‘CESC should recover dues from the Government instead of passing on the burden to consumers’



MYSORE: Participants at a public hearing convened here on Tuesday strongly opposed the power tariff hike proposed by Chamundeswari Electricity Supply Corporation (CESC).

The hearing was convened by the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC). Consumers and stakeholders were unanimous in seeking rejection of the proposed increase in the power tariff. More than 150 objections were received by KERC Chairman K.P. Pandey during the hearing.

Representatives of the Mysore Industries Association (MIA) underlined the crisis plaguing small, medium and large industries owing to global economic slowdown and said an increase in the power tariff at this juncture would be a crippling blow to the industrial sector already reeling in crisis.

Stay

They pointed out that the KERC had rejected the hike of 90 paise a unit proposed by the CESC in 2007 following which the latter had approached the Appellate Tribunal to seek a stay on the KERC orders.

Now the CESC had submitted a fresh application seeking a hike of 51 paise a unit, said Suresh Kumar Jain, general secretary of the MIA.

The CESC drew flak for resorting to “anti-consumer” approach by rushing to the Appellate Tribunal when there is a KERC ruling in favour of the consumers.

‘Needless’

Terming the proposed hike as needless, the consumers pointed out that the State had been blessed with good rain and all reservoirs were full. Again, monsoon fury and floods had forced the Government to contemplate imposing cess on taxpayers, P. Vishwanath, president of the MIA, said and added that the hike in power tariff would be unendurable.

The MIA representatives said that the outstanding balance due to the CESC from government bodies such as zilla panchayat, city corporation and town municipalties amounted to Rs. 316.7 crore. The CESC should make efforts to recover the dues from the Government instead of trying to pass on the burden to consumers, they said.

Representatives of Karnataka State Small Scale Industries Association (KASSIA) observed that small-scale industries (SSIs) were the worst hit owing to frequent disruptions in power supply, economic recession and competition posed by multi-national companies and said the SSIs would not survive a power tariff hike at this juncture.

Among other consumers, Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP) submitted its arguments against the proposed hike and said there was no connection between the values of fixed charges and energy charges proposed by the CESC for various categories of consumers and the actual cost of supplying electricity. The MGP stated that since the last several years, all electricity supply companies in Karnataka had been asking for the same tariff rates for various categories of customers and they had done it again this year.

It said that in view of the “poor quality” of power supplied over the last year and long durations of unannounced power cuts imposed by the CESC on its customers, the commission should use powers under section 57 of the Electricity Act and set stringent standards of ensuring power quality and penalise the CESC for violations of these standards.