Jammuites, after long power cuts get ready for higher Electricity bills

Jammu and Kashmir News

Jammu: The baking heatwave and the unscheduled power cuts were any less annoying for the general public, now the Government wants to load them with increased power tariffs.

The PDP-BJP coalition government is compelling an immediate approval for 13.5 per cent hike in electricity tariff from the State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC), the proposal for which has been submitted by the Power Development Department (PDD).

As per the officials, with the gap between revenue and supply of power increasing alarmingly, it has burdened the state’s economy and the coalition government is making every possible effort to increase the revenue collection. If the proposal is accepted, it will be a biggest hike in the past two years as the last increase was made in 2013-14 fiscal, when it was raised by 8.5 per cent.

During 2011-12, the increase was 15 per cent and in 2012-13 19 per cent. The state has not increased any tariff for the past two years and the government claims that the average cost of supply has grown by about 7 per cent.

Though the Finance Minister, Haseeb Drabu, during his Budget speech said that reasonable degree of tariff hike from time to time is required in order to meet the operating costs and to serve the economy, but the power crisis in the state and pitiable condition of people in Jammu during the summer months and people in Kashmir in winter months raise several questions over the proposed move.

The PDD on the other hand, is not able to provide regular power and has been forcing unscheduled cuts even in metered areas. Due to which a common man is forced to question why should they even be paying their bills. According to the general population, the first step should be to tackle the illegal power users, which include some high-profile people, who are chronic defaulters.

Despite repeated tariff boost by the government in the last five years, electricity crisis is still haunts the state, especially in the two capital cities — Jammu and Srinagar. The situation in other towns is even worse.

As per the government statistics, the average cost of electricity supply in Jammu and Kashmir is Rs 7.72 per unit. The average sale per unit is Rs 3.64. At the approved tariff, the average gap comes to Rs 4.18 per unit. The government aims to bring down the Rs 4.18 “loss” per unit by raising the electricity cost.

In conversation with a local daily, Anil Suri, President of Bari Brahmana Industrial Association, said that increasing the electricity charges is not a solution as it will only end up burdening the genuine consumers who pay their bills regularly. He also mentioned that any kind of hike would ultimately affect the industrial sector too.

The Government too is aware of this fact that the widening gap between the power purchase bill and the revenue realization is due to low tariffs, high T&D losses, faulty meters, uncontrolled and unaccounted consumption of power beyond the agreed load by the consumers.

At present, the Transmission and Distribution (T&D) loss in the state is 59 per cent. To deal with this issue, the PDD has planned for 100 per cent metering for reduction in commercial losses.