Industrial units in Maharashtra will observe a day’s shutdown on Thursday as a protest at being billed high for power supply. They have warned of stopping payments, if there is no action by the state government and the two bodies concerned — the Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) and the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company, known as MahaVitaran.
After the latest revision of rates approved by MERC, high-tension consumers are charged Rs 8.50 a unit compared to Rs 5.75 in Karnataka, Rs 5-5.30 in Gujarat and Rs 4.50-4.80 in Chhattisgarh.
There are 17,587 high-tension consumers, 335,157 low-tension consumers and both together are 1.6 per cent of MahaVitaran’s total consumers, numbering 12.3 million.
Comparison of industrial tariff in Maharashtra with neighbouring states (Rs /KWH)
|Average billing rate|
|Maharashtra||7.26 to 7.68||8.51|
|Karnataka||5.75 to 6.00||5.25|
|Gujarat||5.00 to 5.30||5.5|
|Andhra Pradesh||5.00 to 5.50||5.7|
|Madhya Pradesh||5.70 to 6.00||6.60 to 5.85|
|Chhattisgarh||4.50 to 4.80||5.25|
|Goa||4.30 to 4.50||3.3|
|Source : MahaVitaran & Vidarbha Industries Association|
Besides, these two categories of consumers contribute Rs 29,645 crore of revenue, 61 per cent of MahaVitaran’s total.
R B Goenka, chairman, energy cell, Vidarbha Industries Association, told Business Standard: “MERC increased the tariff (rate) six times in 2009-10 and seven times after. Industry consumers find this unsustainable and cannot even calculate their cost of production. The actual increase in the recent rise approved by MERC is 40 per cent.”
He said industry bodies had appealed to the state government to direct MahaVitaran to do 100 per cent meterisation, including agricultural consumers, and make subsidy provisions for industrial consumers. The state government, he said, needed to provide a direct subsidy to farmers instead of giving the responsibility to MahaVitaran.
Industry bodies have also called for providing separate feeders to industrial consumers in single-phase areas.
Rajesh Tope, state power minister, admitted the industry rates were high but pointed to incentives and disincentives offered under the power factor and load factor categories to these consumers.
“Besides, MahaVitaran had offered a rebate of Rs 2.50 a unit during the off-peak period (night). MERC has allowed a rebate of Rs 1 a unit but during the next hearing on November 9, MahaVitaran will press for a rebate of Rs 2.50 a unit, which will provide relief to industry consumers,” he said.
The charge payable by industrial consumers to MahaGenco, the generation company, had been reduced by 50p a unit in October and would be cut by another 50p in November. This would give relief of Rs 1 a unit. “I am ready for a dialogue with industry bodies to look into their issues,” Tope assured.