Scrap power tariffs to revive industries, says consumer group

An electricity consumers’ group has asked the government to scrap power tariffs with immediate effect to revive lakhs of industries in Maharashtra affected by the nationwide lockdown.

The Electricity Consumers and Industrial Organisation has urged the government to defer bill payments during the lockdown period as well as cancel tariffs for 14,000 industrial and 3,000 commercial units attached to high-tension grids.

In addition, 20 lakh commercial units and four lakh industrial units connected to low-tension grids should also be exempted from paying bills, it said.

“The lockdown announced on March 21 has hurt businesses and industrial units alike. It will take at least two years for them to recover from this setback. Therefore, the government should scrap the fixed and demand tariffs of these units,” said Pratap Hogade, convener of the organisation.

The daily demand in the State has already fallen by 20% to 17,850 megawatts (MW) from the record high of 21,000 MW at its peak in January and February. The tariff cancellation is likely to set the State exchequer back by ₹550 crore, according to an estimate.

Mr. Hogade said this is a force majeure situation (a clause in legal contracts that allows either party to limit their liability in the face of an extraordinary event) and that the need of the hour is a total waiver of both charges for the closure period. “We have petitioned the seven-member cabinet sub-committee, set up to revive the State’s economy,” he said.

Last month, the State government had issued directives to impose a moratorium on penalties and interests on pending bills. The lockdown period — including the seven days declared by the State — will not be taken into account while calculating penalties, the government had announced.

The Hindu
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