Babu Slaps Writ On Delhi Govt; Warns Impact On Metro Rail

New Delhi, April 30: | Updated: May 1 2002, 05:30am hrs
IAS officer Gajendra Haldea Tuesday slapped a writ petition against the Delhi government for violating the Constitution, in its power sector reforms. The petition, argued by former finance minister P Chidamabaram, was admitted by a Delhi High Court bench chaired by the chief justice, and notices issued, returnable next Friday. Mr Chidambaram said he fully supported privatisation, but Delhi government’s action was creating private monopolies.

This is Mr Haldea’s second salvo against the Delhi government: the first being a statutory appeal (FE of April 5) in the HC against the bulk tariff order of Delhi’s Electricity Regulator. The 1973 batch officer turned enfant terrible, has been incharge of the power sector in FinMin, and has described his locus standii in the court, as “a consumer of electricity”, and one who “carried out an honorary assignment for drafting the Electricity Bill, 2001”. His plea is that the Delhi government has introduced provisions in its reform charter, under Section 20 (9), which will enable it to create private monopolies. This, he argues, violate Constitutional provisions under Articles 19, 14, and 301, besides the Electricity Act, 1910 and the reform path undertaken by Orissa, Haryana, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan, and UP. He apprehends “grave injury to public interest for all times to come”.

A reaction from the Delhi government did not materialise till the filing of this story. Among the pitfalls in the proposed reform model, Mr Haldea argues that while areas under New Delhi Municipal Corporation area (where most bureaucrats live) and Military Engineering Services will remain free to buy power from any source, Metro Rail (needing some 250 million units) will end up purchasing it from private discom monopolies at Rs 4.80 per unit. This, Mr Haldea argues, amounts to “bestowing state largesse on a private monpoly enterprise at the cost of poor commuters...in complicity of Metro Rail”, because the sale price of this power to these discoms will be Rs 1.47 only.