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Punjab chamber assails move to hike power tariff

Vijay C Roy  |  Chandigarh 

Disturbed over a proposed hike in power tariff in Punjab, Ludhiana-based Chamber of Industrial & Commercial Undertakings (CICU) has urged state Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to advise Punjab State Electricity Regulatory Commission (PSERC) not to grant approval for the proposal, which has been submitted by the state electricity corporation to encourage investments from other states in Punjab and to boost existing industry.

Avtar Singh, president, CICU said that the proposal of Punjab State Power Corporation Ltd (PSPCL) for a hike in power tariff by 65 paise per unit submitted to PSERC is uncalled for, as it will raise the cost of production and make industry in Punjab uncompetitive. The proposal is not in tune with the industrial investment opportunities recently offered by Punjab Deputy Chief Minister Sukhbir Singh Badal during the meetings he recently held with the captains of Punjab's industry at Mohali and Ludhiana, Singh said. Moreover, Punjab is now a power-surplus state and should provide power at reasonable rates with other states in India.

Upkar Singh Ahuja, general secretary, CICU, said that in the current fiscal year - on April 10, 2013 - PSERC had already allowed increases in power tariffs - from Rs 5.10 to Rs 5.74 (12.55 per cent) per unit for small-scale industry; from Rs 5.61 to Rs 6.26 (11.58 per cent) per unit for medium-scale industry; and from Rs 5.61 to Rs 6.33 (12.83 per cent) per unit for general industry.

He added that PSPCL should set its own house in order by reducing manpower, T&D losses, transit losses of coal and by curbing the theft of energy. There would then be no need to revise the power tariff regularly.

Further, in order to protect the valid concerns of all stakeholders while determining power tariffs for various categories of consumers, CICU believes that the composition of the PSERC needs to be reviewed. It said that the commission should be headed by a retired high court judge or a competent technocrat from another state or renowned industrialist from reputed sectors of Punjab's industry. This composition will enable the commission to work as a real autonomous body, CICU said.

First Published: Mon, January 13 2014. 21:38 IST