At meeting over power rates, political slugfest ensues between AAP and BJP

A public hearing on power tariff revision in city organised by the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) turned into a political slugfest between the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Wednesday.

Residents’ Welfare Associations (RWAs) complained of not getting enough time to discuss their issues.

The hearing, chaired by DERC chief SS Chauhan, began at around 10.30am. Almost immediately, political parties began sloganeering and slinging allegations over tariffs in the city.

AAP MLAs Nitin Tyagi, Rituraj Jha and Sarita Singh were allowed to place their comments in the forum on first come-first serve basis, which was objected by BJP MLAs Vijender Gupta, OP Sharma and Jagdish Pradhan. Soon, more than 15 AAP MLAs and BJP legislators, with rebel AAP MLAs Devender Sehrawat and Anil Bajpai at their side, tore pamphlets, raided the stage.

Residents criticised them of “waking up” to the issues now when assembly elections only a few months away. “None of you turned up at the DERC hearing last year when tariff was increased,” said Ashok Bhasin of the North Delhi Resident’s Welfare Federation.

“We were simply appreciating the DERC for not increasing tariffs in the past four years. We urged them to not to do so this year. But, the BJP did not let us do that. While Sehrawat verbally attacked me, Vijender Gupta tried to snatch my papers and tear it,” said Rakhi Birla, deputy speaker of Delhi Assembly and AAP MLA from Mangolpuri.

Gupta and Sehrawat denied the allegations. Gupta, also the leader of opposition in the Assembly, said he has filed a complaint of “hooliganism” against AAP loyalists at Lodi Road police station. “AAP MLA Jarnail Singh snatched my petition and tore it. I had placed before the DERC that the government has allowed systematic loot by turning a blind eye towards manipulation by the discoms,” said Gupta.

It was only around 1:30 pm that the RWAs got a chance to voice their views.

Their key demand was a roll back on fixed charges on the sanctioned load that was increased in 2018. They also demanded a refund of the fixed charges they have been paying over the year.

“The government’s claim that power tariffs were not increased in the past four years is wrong. Tariffs were hiked last year when the DERC increased fixed charges by about six times,” said Saurabh Gandhi, secretary of United Residents of Delhi, an umbrella body of RWAs that is organising these meetings.

Rajiv Kakria, member of Greater Kailash-I RWA said asked why the regulatory assets of discoms continues to hover around ₹60,000 crore despite the DERC initiating a liquidation plan four years ago.

First Published:
Jul 11, 2019 06:10 IST

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