Responding to Delhi’s Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena releasing a note proposing changes in the power subsidy policy in the national capital, the Delhi government on Monday stated that the subsidy will not be curtailed and will continue as it is for all the people in the city.
The clarification from the government came after the L-G’s office released a note on the basis of a recommendation from the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission, seeking changes to the power subsidy policy in the national capital.
The note issued by the L-G’s office last Friday stated, “Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) had in 2020 issued a ‘statutory advice’ to the Delhi government asking it to consider ‘restricting’ power subsidy to the ‘poor and needy’ consumers consuming 1-5 KW of power that would not only cover nearly 95% of the consumers but also save nearly Rs 316 crore per year.”
Issuing a statement on Monday, AAP leader, who recently took oath as Delhi’s Power minister, said the government has no plans to discontinue the power subsidy for any consumer or change the basis of the subsidy.
“CM Arvind Kejriwal is committed to providing 24×7 free electricity to the people of Delhi. Our power subsidy is not going to be altered. The L-G office is deliberately spreading misinformation regarding it,” she said.
On the DERC recommendation, Atishi said, “In a letter dated 06.01.2023, DERC had recalled its prior advice to Delhi government on curtailing power subsidy to consumers having connections of fixed load above 5kW or 3kW. After a detailed examination of various legal provisions of the Electricity Act 2003 and prior SC judgments, DERC had concluded that it has no legal basis or jurisdiction to advise the Delhi Govt about the withdrawal of subsidy for any category of consumers.”
She alleged that Prime Minister Narendra Modi wants to discontinue power subsidies in Delhi and it was under pressure from the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) that the L-G issued such a statement.
“In these days of inflation, the power subsidy has provided a huge relief to the common man in Delhi. The working and middle class of Delhi are grateful to CM Arvind Kejriwal for this relief. It is the Kejriwal Government’s commitment that the power subsidy will continue,” she said.
Atishi informed that the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) had withdrawn its advice regarding the Power Subsidy in January 2023. The then Deputy CM and minister-in-charge of Power, Manish Sisodia, had written to the DERC chairman requesting it to re-examine the issue and give a fresh opinion on the matter since more than two years had elapsed since DERC’s last advice, she added.
“The DERC, upon receiving this request, carried out a detailed legal examination on the matter and placed its fresh opinion through an order dt. 6th January 2023 retracting its prior ‘statutory advice’, on legal grounds,” she said.
“In its detailed order, the DERC pointed out that as per Section 86(2) of Delhi Electricity Act, 2003, the commission can advise the government only on four defined matters. The matters include (i) promotion of competition, efficiency and economy in activities of the electricity industry; (ii) promotion of investment in the electricity industry; (iii) reorganisation and restructuring of the electricity industry in the State; (iv) matters concerning generation, transmission, distribution and trading of electricity or any other matter referred to the State Commission by that Government” Atishi added.
Atishi also said that the issue of Power Subsidy does not fall into any four of the specific areas under Section 86(2) of the Act and instead comes under Section 65 of the Act, which is the exclusive domain of the Delhi government. Thus, the Commission concluded that its prior advice regarding the subsidy was legally incorrect and without jurisdiction, she claimed.
Atishi informed further, “Given the very fact that the DERC does not have any jurisdiction to oversee power subsidy, its advice on the matter is misplaced and incorrect. “Realising the discrepancy, DERC itself clarified that their previous statutory advice stands null and void as of date.”
She added that the DERC chairperson, in his order, had also denounced the rationale used by the previous commission members to issue such advice.
On the suo-moto nature of previous statutory advice of the commission, the DERC chairperson, in his order stated, “The whole idea of suo-moto advice appears to be that the problem of Pension trust surcharge was to be resolved. Hence, advice totally uncalled for in the circumstances was given, perhaps in good gesture, but totally misplaced. This gesture, however, practical or good, it may sound but has to fulfil/justify the parameters of the law.”
“It is also worthwhile to recall that the advice has been given during the COVID period which was a dark hour in the history of mankind. The whole World, India including Delhi was affected by COVID. All things naturally had gone haywire… Maybe some of the factors of the period also were wandering in the mind of the Commission at that time,” the DERC chairperson stated further.
Citing the detailed order issued by the DERC, the Power minister questioned the L-G’s intent behind the note.
“All these documents are on file. If we are aware of it, so would the Delhi LG. It is worth questioning how the Delhi LG asked the government to alter the subsidy policy when he already knew the advice was legally incorrect?” Atishi said.
She also said the government had not received any note or file from the L-G office in this regard and she got to know of the issue through the media only.
It is clear that the L-G wants to impede the functioning of the government by hook or by crook and is acting with malice, the minister claimed.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)
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