Sure the Delhi govt lowered power tariffs, but are you really paying less?
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Sure the Delhi govt lowered power tariffs, but are you really paying less?

Many residents feel that the hidden layers to the recent power tariff change may end up making them pay more.

Sure the Delhi govt lowered power tariffs, but are you really paying less?

The revised electricity tariffs declared recently by Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) have been faced with opposition from many residents of the city. They question whether the revised rates actually benefit the consumer or the electricity board, and by extension the government. 

The Delhi government and Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) have repeatedly claimed that bills for domestic users will come down with lower rates, despite an increase in fixed charges per month.

Experts however said that the Delhi government has misled the people tactfully in the name of subsidy. Whereas on one hand, the government has provided relief to consumers by slashing tariff charges, on the other hand the fixed charges have witnessed a substantial rise.

The new tariff charges will come into effect from April 1, 2018. As per the new charges, power tariff up to 200 units has been slashed by Rs 1 against last year. In 2017-18, tariff charge for consumption up to 200 units per month was Rs 4 per unit and now it will be down to Rs 3 per unit. Similarly, power consumers using power between 200 to 400 units will now pay Rs 4.50 per month against Rs 5.95 compared to last year. For using power between 401 to 800 units, consumers have to pay Rs 6.70 per unit, against Rs 7.70 per unit last year. Likewise, between 800 to 1,200 units, power tariff has been fixed Rs 7.10 per unit against Rs 8.10 per unit last year.

Suman Malik, a resident of Youngsters Apartments in Sector 6, Dwarka, said, “The bill of several consumers will increase, especially for those who use up to 2 KiloWatt (KW) of power. The Delhi government may have marginally decreased the power tariffs, but has increased the fixed charges, which will lead to these people ultimately paying more than they used to. So for example, for up to 2 KW, fixed charges have been increased from Rs 25 to Rs 125! So now anyone even going on vacation and leaving their homes locked behind will end up paying more, despite no consumption of electricity at all.”

Apex RWAs bodies such as URJA (United RWAs Joint Action) have shifted the discussion to various forums. CEO of URJA, Ashutish Dixit, said, “Power is an essential public utility. Every tariff order, whether rates go up or down, should be accounted for. Public utilities are by default monopolistic, and hence should be subjected to a CAG audit on performance and accounting.”

Experts are of the opinion that the tariffs must be revised such that it benefits residents more. Further, they claimed that the revised tariffs would benefit those who consume more power whereas consumers using below 500 units will be at a loss.

City Spidey spoke to Atul Goel, president of URJA. “The order announced by DERC has two major components. The first is an increase in fixed charges. RWAs have been demanding the abolition of fixed charges altogether, but instead of doing away with it, DERC has increased it manifold."

“By lowering the tariffs, the discoms have proved that they are making gains beyond the 16 per cent assured profits, so our case for a CAG audit just got stronger," Goel continued.

"Currently a PIL on the matter is pending before the Supreme Court. Offering subsidies on power such that only a few categories benefit from it is nothing more than vote bank politics. Each voter is a taxpayer in some capacity. Now all this money is collected by the government as tax and returned to just a few categories of voters by way of subsidy. What is this if not bribing?” Goel further added, “Revising the tariff revise every year is not a right process. It should be fixed for every five years.”

Most residents agree that there are many hidden layers to the traiff change and that policymakers should analyse the rates again.

C L Gupta, a resident of Agarsen Apartment, in IP Extension, Patparganj East Delhi spoke to City Spidey. He said “Domestic consumers using power up to 400 units per month fall under the 50% subsidy slab. Their electricity bill is set to witness a major hike.”

Gupta further added, “Suppose, my house has a connection of 5 KW and I consume 400 units per month, I wouldn’t receive any benefit. If the consumption rises to 500 units per month, I would save Rs 50 per month. Similarly, if I consume 600 units, I can save nearly Rs 100 per month. Thus, we will benefit more only if we increase electricity consumption.”

B S Vohra, the President of East Delhi RWA Joint Front said that the revised tariff policy would be beneficial in the summer season when power consumption is set to increase manifold. However, during other seasons when less than 400 units of power will be used, it wouldn’t offer any advantage. 

He said, “I think the government has taken this decision keeping in mind that the summer season has already begun and power consumption will increase in these days.”

Vohra further told City Spidey that the DERC has paid Rs 1875 crore to power Discoms (BSES Yamuna, BSES Rajdhani and Tata). He also claimed that it is a well- planned step taken jointly by the Delhi government and DERC to provide benefit to the power Discoms.