Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 25:
Major political parties reacted along predictable lines to the decision of the Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC) to raise power tariff for all categories of consumers on Tuesday.
While both the Opposition parties – the Congress and the BJP – slammed the Odisha government for the hike in electricity tariff, the Energy Minister called the hike ‘minimal’, which would not hurt the average consumer too much.
“Should the poor people and farmers be made to bear the arrear burdens of Gridco which is an Odisha government enterprise? The government should make alternative arrangements for compensating the losses. This burden should not be offloaded on to the poor people and farmers of the state. If this decision is not withdrawn, the Congress will certainly take to streets in villages and town across the state,” said Pradesh Congress Committee president Prasad Harichandan speaking to reporters.
Earlier in the day, Leader of the Opposition and senior Congress leader Narasingha Mishra had called the o hike in power tariff ‘most condemnable’.
“Today’s decision is most condemnable. It’s aimed at reducing farmers to beggars. They are giving lengthy speeches outside in support of farmers. But inside their hearts, they are planning how to kill farmers, how farmers can be ruined. They are not procuring potatoes from farmers and farmers have been ruined. They announced they would be providing farmers free electricity, but now they have increased power tariff by 40 paise per unit. For common people, the hike is 20 paise per unit. But for farmers, it is 40 paise per unit. This is Naveen babu’s love for farmers”, said Mishra to reporters outside the Assembly.
The BJP has called the decision as ‘unfortunate’.
“This decision is unfortunate. The state government had on Monday announced in House on how the government would be providing power to consumers at reasonable rates during the debate on demand of Energy department. The minister had himself made a statement in the floor of the House to make available electricity to the people of the state at reasonable rates yesterday. And today, they have hiked rates for consumers. More impirtantly, tariff for farmers too has been hiked by 40 paise per unit. It is like rubbing salt to wounds. The government should take steps immediately for its withdrawal,” said Pradip Purohit, BJP MLA, speaking to the media outside the House.
Energy Minister Pranab Prakash Das was understandably defensive and said that the hike would not affect the common man.
“In case of ordinary consumers, the hike in his monthly electric bill will be around Rs 10. In case of farmers, it would be around Rs 25-30 on his consumption. Honourable chief minister is always with the farmers and shall remain with them. Only after separate feeders are provided for providing power to the farming community, farmers will benefit out of that,” said Energy Minister Pranab Prakash Das.