Bengal govt violates Electricity Act over rebate, alleges union | The Financial Express

Bengal govt violates Electricity Act over rebate, alleges union

The state, through an order on providing rebate to the pujas, has allegedly discriminated among the class of consumers and has not abided itself by Section 65 of the Electricity Act of 2003.

Bengal govt violates Electricity Act over rebate, alleges union
Last year, the state announced 50% rebate on the electricity bills of the registered Durga pujas, but the state government has not paid anything to the state discom.

The West Bengal government’s decision to give 60% rebate on electricity bills to the above 40,00 registered Durga Puja functions in the state has been alleged to be violative of the Electricity Act of 2003. The state, through an order on providing rebate to the pujas, has allegedly discriminated among the class of consumers and has not abided itself by Section 65 of the Electricity Act of 2003. The section says that an amount of money, equal to the amount subsidised, should be deposited with the distribution company in advance. But the state has not taken any such measure.

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Last year, the state announced 50% rebate on the electricity bills of the registered Durga pujas, but the state government has not paid anything to the state discom.

The West Bengal State Electricity Workmen’s Union has already written to the state electricity regulatory commission and the Central Electricity Commission on the issue. Arindam Roy, general-secretary of the union, said the matter has been brought to the notice of the regulators with a hope that some measure would be taken against anomalies that hamper the interest of the distribution company.

While there were no figures available on what could be the financial impact of the rebate to be provided, West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company (WBSEDCL) officials said that even last year, when the state government announced a 50% rebate, the balance sheet for FY22 did not show any impact, and the state didn’t provide anything on the account of this impact.

State power minister Arup Biswas said it was absolutely an “internal matter between the state government and the WBSEDCL. The government has to subsidise the SEDCL’s operation but we are trying to make the SEDCL self-dependent in another two-three years,” Biswas said.

He said last year, there had been a 91% increase in the number of registered pujas across the state at 40,124, which this year is expected to cross 45,000, including the pujas in the CESC area. While the number of pujas to get rebate on power bills has an increasing trend, the amount of rebate has been increased from 50% in 2021 to 60% this year.

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Peak power demand for the five days of festivities has been estimated at 9,678MW, 9,743 MW, 9,663 MW, 8,800 MW and 9,115 MW, against last year’s peak demand of 8,876 MW, 8,237 MW, 8413MW, 7,778 MW amd 8,005 MW, respectively. The average power generation per day during Durga Puja would be to the tune of 10,300 MW; the entire power requirement was expected to be sourced from the state, without having to tap any costly spot power, Biswas said, adding West Bengal Power Development Corporation sources 85% of the coal from its captive mines, but following Deocha Panchami’s production, WBPDCL’s entire coal requirement could be sourced from its own resources. WBPDCL generated 30,104 million units in FY22 and the generation was expected to increase to 33,874 million units in FY23, the minister said. However, according to a WBSEDCL official, the state has not witnessed any power demand surge in the last five years, as there has been hardly any demand from the industrial sector in the state. However, domestic consumption has gone up, requiring WBPDCL to generate more.

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