Traders, civil society to mount anti-tariff protest

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Srinagar—As the government has filed a petition before State electricity Regulatory Commission on hiking of power tariff in the state, the traders and civil society activists have decided to oppose the move by filing objections to the petition on the scheduled day of hearing, and will take to streets. The government has proposed substantial hike in power tariff for the year 2016-17 by submitting a petition to the Jammu and Kashmir State Electricity Regulatory Commission (JKSERC) for Annual Revenue Requirement for the 2nd Multi Year Tariff (MYT) Control Period FY 2016-17 to FY 2020-21.
The Power Development Department wants to fill the loss of revenue gap which is worth crores every financial year. The SERC is scheduled to hear the petition on March 26.
Former SERC member and member of Kashmir Centre for Development and Social Studies (KCDS), Shakeel Qalandar told KNS that the civil society will oppose the mover by filing objections to the proposed petition by Power Development Department to increase power tariff hike in the state.
“PDD has not taken a good step by submitting a petition on hiking power tariff for consumers. People of the state are yet to come out of the devastation of 2014 flood, and the government is thrusting one more huge burden on them. It is not justified,” Qalandar told KNS.
“It reflects the insensitivity of the government and PDD toward the people. The imported bureaucracy in the Civil Secretariat has no connection with the people and takes such arbitrary decisions,” he said.
Kashmir Economic Alliance Chairman Showkat Choudhray told KNS that the move is “anti-people” and the trade body besides filing objections to the petition will launch an agitation if the SERC passes the judgment in favour of the government.
“We will also appeal people not to pay power bills to the PDD if such a decision to hike power tariff is taken,” Choudhary told KNS.
Kashmir Manufacturers and Traders Federation Chairman, Muhammad Yasin Khan told KNS that they will also take to streets if SERC passes decision favouring PDD.
“It is not understandable as to what government is upto. On the one hand it is proving flood relief to people, and on the other taking decisions that will badly impact their living,” Khan told KNS. “People are yet to come out of the flood shock, the government is thrusting increased power bills on them. We will take to streets against the decision,” he said. As per the proposed tariff structure for FY 2016-17, the PDD wants to increase energy charges per kWH to Rs 1.35 from the existing tariff of Rs 1.19 for Below Poverty Line category of consumers having consumption up to 30 units per month.
At present, power consumption up to 100 units per month is charged at Rs 1.54 per unit and between 101 units to 200 units per month, the rate is Rs 2 per unit while as between 201 to 400 units per month the rate is Rs 3 per unit. For consumption beyond Rs 400 per month, the rate is Rs 3.2 per unit.
However, the PDD has proposed Rs 2.27 per unit up to 200 units per month by deleting the slab of up to 100 units per month. For units between 201 and 400 per month, it has proposed Rs 3.41 per unit while as for consumption between 400 and 800 units the proposed rate is Rs 3.64 per unit. The PDD has also created new slab—over 800 units per month, which will be charged at Rs 4.20 per unit.—RK

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