Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Mar 30:
The Odisha government which had been receiving much flak ever since Odisha Electricity Regulatory Commission (OERC) announced hike in electricity tariff across all sections of consumers and particularly 40 paise hike in per unit cost for agricultural sector, finally bowed down to the Opposition demand today after the Energy department announced to file a review petition with the OERC for withdrawal of the hike announced for the agricultural sector.
Making an announcement to this effect, Energy minister Pranab Prakash Das informed the Assembly that keeping in view the interest of the farmers of the state, the government will file a review petition with the OERC to roll back the hike for agricultural sector and adjust the same by cross subsidizing in the tariff order.
After the minister’s announcement the House was adjourned till 3 pm by the Speaker.
“Keeping in mind the debates and discussions in the House during its current session on the electricity tariff hike and the sense of the House , the Energy department will file a review petition before the OERC to roll back/withdrawal of increased tariff pertaining to agriculture. The OERC will be requested to adjust it through cross subsidy in the tariff order”, the Energy minister told newsmen outside the House.
Following the Energy minister’s announcement of the issue the main opposition party Congress said it will cooperate in the proceedings of the House.
“We were mainly opposing the burdening of farmers by the government and were also opposing the hike in power tariff for people below the poverty line which has been hiked from Rs 65 to Rs 80 and had been demanding its withdrawal and apart from it we were demanding complete roll back of the hike. Since the government has conceded to some we will cooperate in the proceedings of the House”, said Narasingh Mishra, Leader of the Opposition, speaking to the media outside the House.
The BJP said the government has bowed down and has changed its direction.
“The government has bowed down and there has been a change in its direction. They will be filing with the OERC for roll back of the hike doe farmers. We are still sorry because we have been demanding for roll back of power tariff hike for poor people which are yet to be accepted by the government. BJP will continue with its demand for roll back of this hike”, said BJP MLA Rabi Nayak.
The functioning of the Assembly was stalled almost for a week after the OERC on March 23 announced hike in power tariff. While the tariff for domestic consumers was raised by 20 paise per unit of electricity, the hike was 40 paise in case of agriculture.
The opposition Congress and BJP had been staging agitation both inside and outside the Assembly demanding total roll back of the increased power tariff. This led to stalling of the Assembly proceedings for almost a week with several all party meetings failing to resolve the issue.
When the House assembled for the question hour today, the opposition members rushed to well of the House forcing Speaker Niranjan Pujari to adjourn the proceeding till 12.50 PM.
However, normalcy returned after the House reassembled and the minister announcing the decision to file a review petition before the OERC requesting roll back of the proposed tariff hike pertaining to agriculture. The new tariff was scheduled to be implemented from April 1.
While the opposition members demanded roll back of the new power tariff, the ruling party members created ruckus over the pulling out of three Central PSUs-MCL, RSP and Nalco- from the ‘Aahar’ scheme of the state government.