New Delhi: After water, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Tuesday fulfilled his second major election promise of cutting power bills of residents by half.
The move to provide 50 percent subsidy in power tariff, expected to benefit an estimated 2.8 million out of 3.4 million households, applicable if consumption is below 400 units per month, came a day after the new chief minister announced free 667 litres of water per day for all metered households. The rider was if you use more than this limit, you pay as per tariff revised upward by 10 percent from Jan 1.
The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had in its poll manifesto promised power tariff reduction by half across the board.
Kejriwal, who took oath Saturday, also suggested an audit into the power companies in the national capital, giving them time until Wednesday morning to file their objections, if any.
Explaining the subsidy, officials said for consuming 0-200 units, the power tariff would be down from Rs.3.90 per unit to Rs.1.95 per unit. The previous Congress government had given a subsidy of Rs.1.20 on this slab, which the AAP increased by 75 paise.
For those consuming between 200-400 units, the cost would be down from Rs.5.80 per unit to Rs.2.90.
The earlier subsidy of 80 paise has been increased by Rs.2.10. The new power rates will be effective from Jan 1.
“The measure would benefit 2.8 million of the 3.4 million households in Delhi,” Kejriwal told reporters after the cabinet meeting. He said the intended beneficiaries are the poor and the middle class.
The electricity tariff would cost the government Rs.200 crore but Rs.139 crore of this would be borne by the power companies against their outstanding.
Kejriwal also met Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Shashi Kant Sharma to seek an audit of the power distribution companies in the capital.
He said the previous Congress government lied on the issue of auditing of power discoms. “The CAG is ready for the audit,” he added.
Delhi has three power discoms – BSES Rajdhani Power Limited, BSES Yamuna Power Limited and North Delhi Power Limited.
Kejriwal told media persons his government would wait for the responses from the companies before taking a final decision on audit. “By tomorrow evening, we will decide whether to go for audit or not,” he said.
Kejriwal expressed hope that after the audit, which takes time, there would be no need for subsidy.
Both the Congress, which is propping a minority AAP government, and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) downplayed the move.
“This is no reduction actually. He is giving subsidy to the people at the cost of tax payers’ money which is meant for implementation of welfare schemes,” BJP’s leader Harsh Vardhan said.
“His moves are creating a confusing picture. It is very difficult to comment what his plan of action will be,” former chief minister Sheila Diskshit said.