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Odisha BJP stages demo against power tariff hike; Cong to follow suit on Monday

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Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 27:

Intensifying its agitation against the across the board power tariff, the Odisha unit of the BJP today staged a dharna in front of the Raj Bhawan demanding the rollback of the decision announced on Monday.

Pic: Biswaranjan Mishra
Pic: Biswaranjan Mishra

Scores of senior party leaders and workers squatted in front of Raj Bhavan here to protest the decision to raise power tariff.

The party is scheduled to submit a memorandum to Governor SC Jamir today.

“We are here to give vent to the public anger on the issue. Gridco has outstanding dues of around Rs 5, 000 pending on Reliance towards bulk power purchase. Instead of recovering it from the defaulters, why is the government passing it on to the consumers? The government should withdraw the power tariff hike with immediate effect or else the agitation will be intensified,” senior BJP leader Bhrugu Buxipatra said.

“The Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC) decision to hike power tariff is anti-people and against the interest of the poor farmers. Where domestic and commercial consumers would have to shell out 20 paise more per unit of consumption, farmers would pay 40 paise more per unit.  This is against the interests of the people in the state,” a senior party leader said.

The state government is yet to recover the arrears of Rs 7,098 crore pending for long on Reliance Infra, which managed power distribution in the state through three distribution companies (discoms)– Nesco, Wesco & Southco till recently. The government has to initiate stringent action against the officials who helped the companies to defraud the people of the state, BJP spokesperson Sajjan Sharma said.

Senior BJP leader and former Rajya Sabha MP Rudra Narayan Pany on Thursday staged a demonstration in front of Dhankanal Collector’s office protesting against the power tariff hike.

The Opposition Congress is also gearing up for a state-wide protest rally demanding rollback of the power tariff hike. The party has announced that demonstrations will be organised in all 30 district headquarters towns in Odisha on March 30.

“We have been protesting the OERC decision in the Assembly and have also submitted a memorandum to the Governor seeking his intervention. The OERC decision would put extra burden on the power consumers, which is illegal. The dues payable to NTPC by the GRIDCO are being passed on to the consumers, which is unjust. The Congress party would continue its agitation till government reverses its decision on power tariff hike,” PCC President Prasad Harichandan said.

Meanwhile, the Odisha Power Consumers’ Federation has also called for a state-wide bandh on March 31 in protest against power tariff hike.

Terming the OERC order “illogical” and “illegal”, federation’s President Panchanan Kanungo said the government should conduct a CAG audit of the discoms and cancel the franchisee system.

“Various Opposition parties, trade unions and farmers’ bodies have lent their support to the hartal. We urge the Bar Associations, the Bus Associations, shop owners and other traders to support the state-wide agitation to make it a success,” Kanungo said.