The Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG)-run BSES Yamuna and BSES Rajdhani, Delhi’s power suppliers, threatened on Wednesday to cut supply in the capital, if rates were not increased by 60 per cent, or BSES not given aid of Rs 500 crore. In the national capital, where sadak, bijlee and paani have been poll planks in many an election, it caused a flutter in the ruling and the opposition parties. Caught off-guard and under attack from opposition, power minister Haroon Yusuf summoned BSES officials for a meeting, and responded, saying “all options were open” for the government, if BSES Yamuna and BSES Rajdhani issued any further threats.
Sources said sparks flew at the closed-door meeting. The power distributors demanded rates of domestic supply be hiked from the present Rs 2.45, to Rs 4.60 per unit. These rates would be applicable for first consumption slab of 0-200 units per month. As of now, residents of Delhi pay Rs 2.45 per unit up to 200 units, Rs 3.95 for 201-400 units and Rs 4.65 above 400 units.
Compared to Delhi, residents of neighbouring NOIDA, UP, pay Rs 3.45 up to 200 units per month and Rs 3.80 above 200 units. Gurgaon residents pay Rs 2.63 for up to 40 units, Rs 3.75 for 41-300 units and so on. In Chennai, residential users pay Rs 2.70 up to 25 units, Rs 3.33 for the next 35 units and so on (see chart above). Clearly, Delhi residents pay the least, when compared to its neighbours, as well as to other metroes, thus justifying BSES’s demands.
Mumbai residents pay Rs 2.96 up to 100 units, Rs 5.56 from 101-300 units, upto Rs 10.61 for above 500 units, to their Reliance ADAG-run power utility. The story of Mumbai is different, with four different tariff rates in different areas as compared to Delhi, which has uniform tariff. The rates of BEST and Tata power are the lowest, averaging around Rs 4.50 per unit, while, interestingly, that of Reliance Infrastructure is the highest—around Rs 6-6.50 per unit.
On Wednesday, both units of BSES announced they would not be able to run without government aid, or an increase in rates. The companies are losing Rs 8-10 crores per day and would not be able to run beyond May, with accumulated losses over Rs 9,000 crores.
Any disruption in power supply by the two companies would severely bring Delhi to a standstill as together, they cover an estimated 70 per cent of Delhi. The opposition cried hoarse and said tariff should be reduced since the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) had proposed a reduction in traffic some months ago. Senior BJP leader and MLA Jagdish Mukhi said, “DERC has already asked electricity rates to be slashed by 20 per cent. How can BSES talk about increasing rates when they are already getting Rs 300 crore extra from not reducing rates. They are fooling the public and cooking up books to show losses. When privatisation took place, the CAG had said there was a Rs 12,500 crore scam and Delhi government was to blame. Now the same government is hand and glove with private players to raise the rates. The electricity companies are getting an assured return by way of 16 per cent profit. How can they claim to be in loss.” Mukhi questioned why ADAG companies want to increase rates, when Tata-run NDPL has no such issue. He said government-appointed directors on board BSES units had failed to perform their duties.
Delhi BJP chief Vijender Gupta has another view. With losses due to transmission and distribution (T&D) and theft down to 12 per cent from 53 per cent, he says, the distributors are making a neat profit of Rs 120 crore on each per cent of loss recovered. By these accounts, they make Rs 4,900 crore in profits every year. It seems Delhi’s power brokers are hell bent on taking the citizens for a ride. Is there anything new there?