Campaigners meet AK Walia, MLAs
Jasleen Kaur | November 9, 2011
Delhi health minister Dr A K Walia on Wednesday told the members of United Residents Joint Action (URJA), a conglomeration of resident welfare associations (RWAs) protesting power tariff hikes, that it is difficult to bring discoms under the ambit of RTI.
Team URJA met Walia, a former Delhi power minister, as part of their walkathon campaign against the power tarriff increase. URJA has been meeting each and every MLA to persuade them to pledge their support to the campaign.
Walia said privatisation had helped solve the shortage of electricity in the capital to a great extent. Asked about bringing the discoms under the ambit of RTI Act, he said, "51 percent share of discoms is with the companies and 49 percent with the government. The government has a stake in it. But according to the Company Act, the major stake is with the companies so it cannot come under the RTI.” He, however, assured support to URJA on the issue.
The URJA members have been demanding to get the accounts of the power distribution companies audited by the comptroller and auditor general (CAG) before the next tariff hike and to bring these companies under the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. It has, so far, covered 27 constituencies spread across 125 km. It will cover about 70 constituencies by the walkathon to meet each and every MLA and persuade them to give their support.
Last month, Delhi chief minister Sheila Dikshit had indicated another hike in the power tariff saying an increase of 22 percent granted to the three discoms - BSES Radhani, BSES Yamuna and NDPL - was not enough. She had justified the hike by saying that the cost of power on Delhi was still lower as compared to other states.
“Whenever the discoms tell the government that they are facing losses and need to increase tariff, the government gives them a free hand,” says Sanjay Kaul, founder of People’s Action and chairperson URJA. He adds, “Currently, the companies are not accountable to anybody. But a common man who pays huge bill has the right to know about the accounts and functioning of these companies.”
URJA members also met congress MLA from Patparganj constituency, Ch. Anil Kumar, who appreciated the effort put in by the team and agreed that discoms should come under the RTI. “Even we receive complaints from people regarding high tariff. There are many who have suffered loss.” He added, “We have spoken to the CM on the issue time and again and we will raise it again in the assembly.”
The response from the MLAs, so far, has been fairly positive and they appreciate the effort put in by the members.
“Some of them were surprised to see that there is a group of people for whom this issue is so important that they are walking for it and showing their protest,” said Atul Goyal, convenor of URJA.
Last year, when the DERC indicated that it would reduce power tariff by 20 percent, the Delhi government used Section 108 of the Electricity Act to block the order. URJA demands government’s intervention, using the same section, to block the DERC tariff order until the CAG finishes its audit.
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