Convention against Hike in Power Tariff

04 July 2015
The ‘People’s Movement against Power Tariff Hike’, a platform of electricity consumers, concerned citizens and activists of West Bengal, organised a Citizen’s Convention against Power Tariff Hike in Bengal at Moulali Yuva Kendra, Kolkata on June 18. The convention was organized to oppose the fresh round of power tariff hike that has been imposed by the West Bengal Electricity Regulatory Commission (WBERC).

Prof. Sankar Sen, former power minister of the state, sent his video recorded speech for the convention because he was too ill to attend it physically. Comrade Prosenjit Bose of Left Collective, Comrade Alik Chakraborty of CPI(ML) Red Star and Comrade Amitabha Bhattacharya of Mazdoor Kranti Parishad were among the speakers.

The decision to hike tariffs for 2014-15, i.e. the last financial year, was announced by the WBERC in March 2015. Since then the CESC (Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation) and WBSEDCL (West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited) have been charging the enhanced tariff rates alongside the arrears for the last year, imposing fresh burdens on the consumers. The WBERC has become an ineffective regulatory body, which has turned into a rubber stamp of the power distribution companies. Two of the three posts of full time members of the WBERC, including that of the chairperson, are lying vacant. A single member of the WBERC has signed the tariff order effecting sharp increases in tariff rates. How can a regulatory body, whose chairperson is absent, take such decisions?

Domestic consumers in West Bengal are paying the highest power tariff in the entire country. The CESC, which enjoys absolute monopoly in power distribution in Kolkata, Howrah and adjoining areas, is making enormous profit year after year, by hiking power tariffs under different pretexts. The monopoly power exercised by the power distribution companies coupled with the total failure of the WBERC in protecting the interests of the consumers has led to this unacceptable situation.

The ‘People’s Movement against Power Tariff Hike’ has called for a review of the latest tariff orders issued by the WBERC and demanded that the following steps be taken in order to protect the interests of the electricity consumers of the state:

·           Withdrawal of the latest hike in power tariff

·           Re-initiation of the process of Tariff Determination by WBERC and Reduction of Power Tariffs in Kolkata and West Bengal

·           Restructuring of the WBERC and making the participation of consumer representatives and public hearings mandatory in decisions on tariff revisions. Breaking the monopoly of the CESC in power distribution to Kolkata, Howrah and adjoining areas

·           Making pro-people amendments to the Electricity Act 2003 to strengthen the ERCs, making them transparent and accountable

·           Withdrawal of the anti-people Electricity Amendment Bill 2014.

The ‘People’s Movement against Power Tariff Hike’ has appealed to all concerned citizens and power consumers to participate in the movement to reverse the power tariff hike.
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