Sindhia, Ramdas object to tariff hike

BANGALORE Jan. 28. P.G.R. Sindhia of the JD(U) and A. Ramdas of the BJP filed objections to the proposed power tariff, at the office of the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) here today.

Mr. Sindhia said the proposed hike — an average 10.2 per cent overall — would drive away new industries and close down those operational. Karnataka was already in the grip of drought. Now things would worsen and "there will be dark nights in Bangalore", Mr. Sindhia told reporters.

He said unnecessary governmental interference had made the power companies bankrupt. For example, governmental approval was needed for purchases over Rs. two crore. And independent MDs were "treated like footballs". Besides, the Government itself had no money and owed the companies Rs. 3,000 crore, Mr. Sindhia said.

At last year's tariff hearing, the KERC had suggested steps to improve the revenue collection, etc., of the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation Ltd. (KPTCL). If those directives had been obeyed, the companies would not have needed a tariff hike.

Mr. Ramdas and his party colleagues also filed objections against the tariffs proposed by the power companies.

As the companies had not executed 20 of the 26 KERC directives issued last year, their petitions were not maintainable under Section 27 of the Karnataka Electricity Reform Act, Mr. Ramdas said.

Besides, the companies had not filed accounts for the past five years; they had only submitted those pertaining to the previous nine months.

This was to hide high power purchase costs from companies like Tannir Bhavi Power Company (TBPC) and Rayalseema, the MLA alleged.

In 2003, the Rayalseema power cost would be Rs. 7.11 paise a unit. But the cost for 2004 was not shown.

Mr. Ramdas also wanted KPTCL to get the single Bench ruling (on the TBPC-KPTCL dispute) reviewed.

The MLA charged that there was a "scam" in implementing the Centre's Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme. Under it, Mysore circle was to get Rs. 73.76 crore, Sirsi Rs. 16.86 crore, Karwar Rs. 16.48 crore, Gadag Rs. 14.66 crore, and Hubli- Dharwad Rs. 6.08 crore.

But poor-quality equipment was bought for which, Mr. Ramdas said, he had bills.

He wanted a separate hearing to expose those involved in the scam.

Mr. Ramdas said the State had to put in place a need-based tariff regime so that farmers in Malnad, for example, could buy power only when they needed it, instead of paying for all 12 months.

Mr. Ramdas added that he planned to file a petition against the KERC's recent order on reducing the three-month minimum deposit to two months.

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