Maharashtra does a Delhi, cuts power tariff by up to 20 pct, CM Prithviraj Chavan says not a copycat move

Written by Reuters | Mumbai | Updated: Jan 21 2014, 03:41am hrs
Arvind KejriwalMaharashtra power tariff cut move follows the decision by Arvind Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi.
The Congress party-ruled state of Maharashtra, in western India, will cut electricity tariffs by 15 to 20 percent, television channels said on Monday in an effort to play to the galleries in the wake of the Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP govt slashing rates in Delhi soon after swearing-in.

The state cabinet had accepted the recommendation of a panel of ministers to cut tariff, the TV channels said. Further details were not immediately available.

The move follows the decision by the Aam Aadmi Party government in Delhi, earlier this month to subsidise power tariffs for lower usage customers. This had led lawmakers from several other states demanding similar cut in power tariffs ahead of national elections that need to be completed by May.

Arvind Kejriwal had announced a 50 per cent power tariff cut soon after being sworn is as Delhi Chief Minister.

However, the cut in power tariff does not apply to the megalopolis Mumbai.

India suffers peak hour power shortages of around 4 percent as higher demand from cities and industries outpaces growth in power generation capacity.

No aping of AAP in slashing power tariff: Chavan

Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan today dispelled the perception that the state government took a cue from Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) to slash power tariffs by 20 per cent.

"We have not taken the decision to reduce 20 per cent power tariff charged to domestic consumers, industries and powerlooms because of Aam Admi Party (AAP)," Chavan told reporters.

Denying BJP's charge that the decision was "politically motivated" and timed ahead of elections, Chavan said the government has in fact fulfilled the assurance it had given to people.

"The state government had on November 19 assured that it would fulfil the promise to reduce 20 per cent power tariff," the chief minister said.

Chavan said reduction in electricity tariff will incur an additional burden of Rs 7200 crore on the state exchequer.

"If the opposition wants to make any allegation they are free to do it", he added.

Chavan also denied the Leader of Opposition in state Legislative Council Vinod Tawde's claim that Congress Parliamentary Board today failed to seal the pact on seat-sharing with NCP for upcoming elections.

"Congress would contest the upcoming elections in Maharashtra in alliance with NCP," Chavan said.

Maha move to cut power tariff will benefit only pvt cos: BJP

Opposition BJP today termed as "eyewash and misleading" Maharashtra government's decision to effect 20 per cent cut in power tariffs and alleged the move would "benefit" only private companies and not consumers.

"The decision by the state government to reduce the power tariff was taken to benefit private power supplying companies so that they can fund the ruling parties during elections," alleged the Leader of Opposition in Legislative Council Vinod Tawde.

Maharashtra cabinet today decided to slash by 20 per cent the power tariff charged to domestic consumers, industries and powerlooms by the state-run Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company (MahaVitaran).

The cut will not be applicable in Mumbai where players other than MahaVitaran supply power. Mumbai consumers get power supply from Tata Power, Reliance Infrastructure and BrihanMumbai Electric Supply and Transport (BEST) undertaking.

"It is nothing but an eye-wash. People will not benefit because of it (cut in tariff)", Tawde alleged.

State unit BJP president Devendra Fadnavis flayed the cut in power tariffs, saying the decision was "politically motivated" and aimed at appeasing electorate ahead of elections.

"The decision is only to win the upcoming elections. The decision will remain for only 10 months till the election period," Fadnavis said in a statement.

"Instead of giving a gift of Rs 7200 crore to corrupt power companies, it would have been better had the state government avoided corruption in coal block allocation," Fadnavis said.