NGO claims consumers over-billed by Rs 45,00 cr

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SummaryIt said power tariff has been hiked in Delhi by a whopping 59 per cent in last two years.

Private distribution companies in the city have billed the consumers an additional Rs 4,500 crore in the last five years for electricity that was never actually supplied, a report by an NGO alleged today.

It said power tariff has been hiked in Delhi by a whopping 59 per cent in last two years which is the highest increase among all states while Gujarat was at the bottom of the list with only six per cent hike.

"The discoms have been incentivised by billing power worth Rs 4,500 crore in the last five years that was never supplied -- through Residual Back Flow," said Anil sood, President of NGO Chetna while releasing the report on the power sector in Delhi.

Explaining the residual back flow, he said the discoms have not installed a equipment called "bus bars" in 25 lakh electronic metres in the city due to which when power demand goes up, current flows into the "neutral lines" resulting in fast running of metres.

"We have obtained data of supply of power by Tata Power Delhi Distribution Ltd trough 327 transformers which shows negative loss which means the discom charged the consumers more than the electricity supplied. This is a clinching evidence of overcharging," alleged Rajiv Kakria of GK-I RWA who has been petitioning regulator DERC to address the issue.

Various RWAs have been demanding installation of bus bars in electricity metres. Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit last year had also directed the discoms to look into the matter of fast running metres.

When contacted, a senior BSES official rejected the report saying it was not based on facts.

The report, which the NGO said has been compiled from data sourced from government, said the discoms have been buying power much more than the actual requirement, cost of which is being charged from the consumers.

As per figures, the power requirement of the city for the year 2012-13 was 25692.49 (million units) while the discoms decided to purchase 40234.55 (Mus) with an excess of 14542.06 (Mus) which is an excess of 56 per cent of the total demand.

The report said the surplus for the upcoming years of 2013-14 and 2014-15 would shoot up to 84.60 per cent and 84.80 percent respectively.

"The DERC chairman has written to the government to bail out the discoms by giving package of Rs 20,000 crore without even putting forth the fact that they are purchasing power much beyond the requirement and sale of such power would lead to an avoidable loss of Rs 17,000 crore approximately," Sood said.

Accusing Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission of taking decisions to favour the discoms, Sood also demanded immediate disbanding of the current DERC.

The NGO said though auditing of accounts and prudence check of the discoms at the end of every financial year is mandatory, no such exercise has been carried out since 2004-2005.

Questioning the credibility of DERC, the NGO said PricewaterhouseCoopers which was appointed by the regulator as consultant to prepare tariff orders for the year 2011 to 2015 and the audit firm was statutory auditor of Reliance Infra for 2009-10. Two discoms BSES Rajdhani Power Ltd and BSES Yamuna Power Ltd are backed by the Reliance Infra.

The NGO also accused Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit of supporting the discoms and said government was allowing exploitation of the consumers by the private companies.

On May 4, 2010, the Delhi government, using a special power, had stalled DERC's decision to announce the annual tariff for 2010-11 till it re-examined the demands from discoms to increase the rates.

The DERC, which was making last minute preparations to announce the new tariff next day, after receiving the government directive had indicated that it had planned to cut down the tariff by 20 to 25 per cent as discoms would have a surplus of around Rs 4,000 crore if the existing tariff was not changed.

Although DERC was strongly arguing for a cut in tariff, the three-member regulator, following retirement and subsequent appointment of two new members, gave indication of taking a sympathetic approach to the demands of the discoms and hiked the tariff by 22 per cent in August 2011 and 26 per cent in June last year for domestic consumers.

The government's notification stalling the tariff order was quashed by Delhi High Court in February, describing the intervention as "absolutely unjustified, unwarranted, untenable".

Following the Delhi government's intervention, the then DERC headed by Berjinder Singh, who was strongly arguing for cut in power tariff, had sought opinion of the then Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium on the issue who held the government's directive as "ultra vires".

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