New Delhi, March 28:
The Delhi High Court Friday agreed to hear a plea seeking direction to frame a scheme to ensure that underprivileged residents of the capital, consuming less than 400 units of electricity per month, are not affected following the lapse of subsidy after April 1.
A division bench of Acting Chief Justice B.D. Ahmed and Justice Siddharth Mridul posted for April 1 the plea that said Delhi residents will face high electricity tariff after March 31 due to the expiry of government subsidy for consumers using less than 400 units in a month.
The public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Anurag Kejriwal, member of Lok Satta Party, said it should be ensured that underprivileged residents of Delhi consuming 1-400 units are not affected adversely by the lapse of subsidy until another government is duly elected.
It asked to court to ensure that underprivileged residents “do not have to bear unsubsidised tariff owing to a paralysis of governance and political posturing during the elections”.
“The subsidy provided by the previous governments to ease the burden on the underprivileged and provide lifeline electricity at economic prices is set to expire March 31,” the plea stated.
Currently, consumers are charged a subsidised rate of Rs.2.70 per unit for consuming 200 units or less in a month. The actual cost per unit comes at Rs.3.90.
If consumption is 201-400 units per month, consumers are charged a subsidised rate of Rs.5 per unit against the actual cost of Rs.5.80.
Usually, the budgetary allocation for electricity subsidy is made under the annual budget.
However, the Aam Aadmi Party government resigned after 49 days in power, due to which the annual budget could not be passed.
Subsequently, the budgetary allocations for Delhi were made in the vote on account passed Feb 17, 2014 by parliament.
The plea said that no budgetary allocation were made in the interim budget for subsidising the burden of electricity tariff on the underprivileged.
“Successive state governments in Delhi have been subsidising the tariff payable by consumers, inter alia, to ensure that a resource as critical and essential as electricity does not remain beyond the grasp of the underprivileged,” it said.
The plea added that there exist millions of residents in Delhi who cannot afford electricity without the aid and assistance of the government.
“Discoms continue to resist being audited, the provision of lifeline subsidies has been turned into a game of political football between various political parties.
“Any incremental revision of electricity tariffs be stayed until the audit process is complete. It is submitted that the discoms must not be permitted to enjoy the fruits of their evasive tactics,” it added.