Bhubaneswar, October 1: The Opposition in Odisha assembly today voiced grave concern over the retail power tariff hike to be effective from today.
“The state’s economy has already suffered a lot due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The hike of the power tariff will further burden domestic electricity consumers by 20 paisa per unit, ” said the Opposition BJP and Congress members moving an adjournment motion on the matter in the state assembly today.
They demanded roll back of the power tariff hike forthwith to save the domestic consumers from further economic crisis.
Opposition Chief Whip Mohan Charan Majhi, BJP MLAs Nityananda Gond and Ganesh Ram Khuntia and senior Congress legislators Tara Prasad Bahinipati and Santosh Singh Saluja participated in the debate.
On the other hand, state Energy Minister Dibya Shakar Mishra defended the decision arguing that the power tariff hike was not effected by a single pie during the last seven year and this year the average hike was by a meagre 4 percent.
Moreover, the prevalent power tariff for different categories of consumers in Odisha has been lower than the neighbouring states of West Bengal, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh, he said.
Stating that the state government has no role to play in the power tariff hike decision, the Minister said that the order was passed by the Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC), an independent authority.
The OERC fixes power tariff hike after conducting public hearing every year on the aggregate revenue requirement of power generator companies. The last power tariff hike was made in 2013-14 financial year.
This year, the aggregate revenue requirement of Grid Corporation of Odisha (Gridco) has been estimated at Rs 8,274.98 crore where as the generator is expected to receive dues to the tune of 7614.83 crore from power distribution companies, leaving a revenue gap of around Rs 660 crore. The revenue shortfall was anticipated in view of the Covid-19 pandemic, said the Minister adding that the Commission has assured to review its power tariff order if there was improvement in revenue collection situation.
There has been a severe economic crisis in the power situation due to drastic fall in energy consumption in the industrial sector because of lock-down in view of Covid-19 pandemic and consequent revenue collection by the power distribution companies. The OERC has. therefore, has ordered in its September 22 order to hike the retail supply tariff by twenty paise per unit with effect from October 1, 2020 and the distributors will pay 16 paisa more per unit for supply of power by the Gridco, said Mishra. However, BPL consumers and farm sector have been exempted from the hike, he reasoned.
The state government has decided to provide necessary guarantee for availing loan from the banks and other financing agencies during Covid-19 pandemic in order to ease the financial burden, said the Energy Minister.