State power minister Nitin Raut said he has issued directives to review the tariff hike proposal put up before the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC).
The outgoing power secretary had come up with a proposal to hike the tariff which was initially agreed upon. However, as an after thought, it appeared that the increase is not warranted. Orders have been issued to review the move, the minister told TOI on the sidelines of a function hosted by Vidarbha Industries Association (VIA).
“The government will ensure that the common man will not be affected due to any move to revise electricity tariff in the state. However, to ensure a lower tariff, steps will also have to be taken for reducing the cost of generation,” said Raut.
RB Goenka, vice-president of VIA and also the organization’s adviser on power sector, said the proposal includes a revenue demand of Rs60,000 crore to be recovered over a period of five years. On an average, it would lead to an increase in power bills by 7% to 8%, he said.
Since the tariff hike petition has already been put up before the MERC, the government will now have to either submit a review petition or withdraw the existing plea under section 108 of the Maharashtra State Electricity Act 2003, citing public interest. MERC has already issued notices to hear objections over the state’s tariff hike proposal, said Goenka.
MERC is a quasi judicial body whose approval is needed to implement any power hike, including that by the state government-owned power utilities.
Earlier addressing the VIA members, Raut said, “The state’s power utilities have pending due to the tune of Rs35,000 crore from the farm sector. There are plans to come up with a scheme under which the dues can be repaid on easy terms by the farmers. At the same time, there are sizeable dues from the government organizations also. Strict action would be taken against these type of defaulters like power cut during some parts of the day,”
Raut, who is also Nagpur’s guardian minister, said, “The previous government considered promoting solar power as a threat to the thermal electricity plants.