BJP hails 'minimal' power tariff hike; Congress opposes

BJP hails 'minimal' power tariff hike; Congress opposesChandigarh : BJP on Friday hailed the "minimal" 2.74 per cent hike in power tariff in Punjab, saying it will put minimum burden on people, even as opposition Congress opposed the hike.

Power regulator Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) today announced a hike of 2.74 per cent in power tariff for all consumer categories for 2014-15.

Punjab BJP president Kamal Sharma said the 2.74 per cent hike announced by PSERC is the minimum burden the government could put on the people of the state.

He claimed that this hike was the lowest in the last seven years since Akali-BJP came to power in the state. In a statement issued here, Sharma said since power tariff is an extremely important factor for urban residents, particularly the industrial community, BJP had taken up the matter with the Punjab Chief Minister requesting him to make sure that there is a minimum power tariff hike for the current fiscal year.

Meanwhile, Punjab Congress chief Partap Singh Bajwa strongly opposed the hike in the power tariff, saying Badal government had given this "gift" to the people within hours after the bypolls were over in two constituencies.

"The cumulative hike in power tariff has been the highest ever since Badal took over. Now there is a new element added to the power scenario with the private players appearing on the scene. There could be more to the hike in power tariff than meets the eyes," he said in a statement.

Bajwa pointed out that the people in the state could have been saved from this burden by plugging the transmission and distribution losses and the power theft.

He said the timing of announcement was an important dimension as the new rates would be effective from April 1 last and it had been delayed due to the bypoll.

Meanwhile, industry body PHD Chamber hailed power tariff hike. "The commission has introduced KVAH tariff this time for the industry which means that in case of continuous supply, the increase in overall tariff of 3 per cent shall be offset due to maintenance of higher power factor while the industry having lower power factor shall have to pay higher tariff," said R S Sachdeva, Co-Chairman, Punjab Committee, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

However, Sachdeva said, "The levying of KVAH tariff from April 2014 is not justified and shall be very damaging for the industry which is unprepared for such a tariff and running on low power factor."

Imposing it from April, with five months having passed already, would cause huge loss to the industry, he said. The grant of rebate to various categories of consumers catered at higher voltages has been increased by 5 paise/kVAh is highly appreciated, he said.