Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 9:
Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC) had to suspend its public hearing today here after scores of protestors disrupted the proceedings demanding CAG audit of private power distribution companies and its decision of proposed power tariff hike.
Public outrage peaked as consumers, including politicians, activists and intellectuals, protested outside the regulatory office here during the public hearing session forcing the officials to defer the proceedings.
‘‘The Appellate Tribunal for Electricity (ATE) has imposed Rs 5,500 crore on the consumers. With this, the consumers would have to pay the dues retrospective from 2006. We demand this to be scrapped immediately,’’ Electricity Consumers Association of Odisha, Chairman Panchanan Kanungo said.
The incensed protestors forced into the office and broke some glass panes in protest against the steep power hike proposed by the commission.
‘‘We demand CAG audit of all the private power distribution companies operating in the state. They say they are incurring losses, we say they are making profits. We demand the discoms to shoulder the burden of Rs 5,500 crore due on them to pay the state government,’’ BJP leader Bhrigu Buxipatra said.
After today’s incident, the commission would take the decision on public hearing soon, an OERC source said.
‘‘The purpose of public hearing is to enable consumers to put forth their grievances or suggestions before the commission. For this, we publish the schedule on hearings in newspapers and other media. Today, hearing of State Load Despatch Center (SLDC) was scheduled. The commission would decide whether the hearings would be abolished or deferred,’’ OERC Secretary Gopalkrushna Dhal said.
It may be recalled that Electricity Consumers Association of Odisha, Chairman Panchanan Kanungo had demanded 30% reduction in electricity taxes, 50% subsidy for the agriculture sector and a CAG audit of all four distribution companies (discoms).
“The transportation and distribution (T & D) losses stand at 27.15% at all India level whereas it is 12.94% in Andhra Ppradesh, 20.16% in Delhi, 17.3% in Gujarat and 15.56% Kerala, it is a staggering 37.08% in Odisha, making it number one in T & D losses,” Kanungo had said.