Explained: What power consumers make of AAP’s free 300 unit announcement
Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann has announced 300 free units of electricity for consumers across the state. A look at the nitty-gritties of AAP’s plan, and how the state power department is approaching the July 1 deadline.
Domestic power consumers have been tacking several doubts about CM Bhagwant Mann’s free 300 units announcement for the state. The Indian Express explains the nitty-gritties of the AAP plan, and how the state power department is approaching the July 1 deadline.
When was power tariff for domestic consumers slashed in Punjab?
It was during former CM Charanjit Channi’s government that power tariff for domestic consumers was slashed with effect from November 1, 2021. Tariff for consumers with load up to 7 kw was slashed by Rs 3 per unit. For first 100 units, tariff for consumers with 2 kw load was Rs 1.19 per unit, and for those with 2-7 kw load was Rs 1.49 per unit. For both categories, rates for 101-300 units after slashing prices stood at Rs 4.01 per unit, while charges got consumption above 300 units stand at Rs 5.76 per unit post the November revision. All these rates include 20% taxes and are still applicable.
How does the new ‘free 300 units’ announcement benefit SC/OBC/BPL and freedom fighters’ families?
Earlier, these categories were getting 200 units free power. Now, it is 300 units free. They will be charged only for the extra units only if their load is not more than 1 kw. This condition of 1 kw load existed earlier as well.
“We are aware of this rider, it existed earlier as well. What can a person use with just one kw load, fans and tube-lights. How can a person with 1 kw load consume these 600 units or beyond? How does it matter then if CM says that these categories will only be charged for extra units after 600,” said Bhagwant Samso, president of Mazdoor Mukti Morcha , Punjab.
Are there any riders for other categories?
According to PSPCL, for other categories, if their consumption is 600 units or less than that for two months, they will be getting a zero bill and if it exceeds even by one unit, they will have to pay the full bill as per the tariff of PSPCL. There are no restrictions regarding the number of ACs or other gadgets as well, only the monthly consumption matters as of now as the notification is yet to be released, revealed PSPCL officials.
Will the slashed rates announced by the previous government be revised?
As of now, PSPCL has got no information regarding this. They may or may not be withdrawn.
How is PSPCL dealing with queries to get meters split?
Much before the announcement of free 300 units per family, people had started inquiring about getting electric meters split in joint families. According to Jasvir Singh, PSPCL chief engineer, Ludhiana central, “It is not that simple to get meters split. They need to give proof of a separate kitchen within the same house, separate water/sewer connection and a separate ration card. Physical examination will also be done as we apprehend a flood of such applications now. However we are prepared to handle all this. Otherwise also people do give such applications in case of family disputes. So, genuine cases are always considered but with proper documents.”
How is PSPCL approaching the July 1 deadline?
PSPCL is planning to get a survey done of “declared load” in their sub-divisions and also planning to take up split meter applications. Consumers say that paddy season will be at its peak when this guarantee will be implemented and hence they are doubtful as to whether AAP will be able to provide them proper power supply. However, AAP’s spokesperson Malwinder Singh Kang stated that everything is being done after proper homework.
What are the fixed charges for consumers?
Consumers pay meter rent, fixed charges per month per kw declared load, electricity duty and infrastructure development fund. Fixed charges per kw for a load up to 2 kw are Rs 35 per month while per kw charges for load between 2-7 kw are Rs 60 per month. For domestic consumers having a load between 7kw-50kw, fixed charges per kw per month are Rs 95.
Out of total 73.80 lakh consumers, nearly 62.25 lakh fall in the bracket of consuming 300 units per month and for this category fixed charges total up to Rs 459 crores.
Further, 15% of the total bill is charged as electricity duty while another 5% as infrastructure development cess. So, 20% is the tax component on an electricity bill. This tax component is part of fixed charges.
State Finance Minister Harpal Singh Cheema, had raised the issue of high taxes on power during the previous Congress regime. However, so far AAP is mum over these taxes.
J S Brar, a retired ex-serviceman based in Ludhiana, says that if electricity is made affordable and fixed charges and taxes are slashed, power will be affordable for one and all and there will be no need to give free units.
“Tax component is huge apart from per unit consumption,” he added.