Himachal electricity board is all set to hit the consumers dearly in the new year. It has proposed a steep hike in the electricity tariff for the year 2010-11 in order to meet interest liability, power purchase and the salary bill of the employees as per the aggregate revenue report filed with the Electricity Regulatory Commission.
The total revenue requirement is projected at Rs. Rs 2,872 crore as against the expenditure of Rs 2,340 crore approved by the commission for the current financial year.
This means if the proposals are accepted then the tariff will shoot up from Rs 3.60 to Rs 4.49 per unit. The domestic consumers will be the worst hit from this hike as power subsidy has been frozen at Rs 140 crore since the government has previously signed an agreement with the World Bank for availing Rs. 900-crore development policy loan.
One main reason for the proposed hike in tariff is reported to be a sharp increase in the salary bill of the Electricity Board. After implementing the new pay commission report, the wage bills of the Board will increase from Rs. 605 crore to Rs. 860 crore!!
Already the Himachal State Electricity Board has the highest employee cost in the country at 94 paise per unit which will increase further to 1.35 paise per unit.
The consumers will also have to pay for the shortage of power in winter months in the state. The Board will have to spend Rs 1,597 crore to purchase the power to meet the winter shortfall as against Rs 1,440 crore this year.
It is pertinent to mention that as per the state government policy independent producers are allowed to sell power outside without meeting the shortfall in the state.
Expenditure on account of interest payments on loans will increase from Rs. 173 crore to Rs. 263 crore. It has been reported that the board is already running a overdraft of 700 crore and it’s accumulated losses are to the tune of Rs. 263 crore.
The point here is why salary hike was approved to the Electricity Board when it is running into losses. Why the Board has not been unbundled which is a statutory requirement? Why does the government expects the public to pay for their salary bill? Why are independent producers being allowed to sell the electricity outside when the state is not able to meet it’s own requirement and buying power at exorbitant rates from outside? Are these power producing companies here just to plunder our resources?
Faulty policies of the government will ultimately hit the consumers hard this year. Another classic case of robbing the public so that the in-efficient babus are paid whopping salaries.
Does government has any answers?
(Figures in the story taken from The Tribune)