End of Free Electricity Scheme in Delhi? LG is giving the Kejriwal government 15 days to make a decision

Free Electricity Scheme in Delhi: Delhi Deputy Governor VK Saxena has asked Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar to direct the Energy Department to bring the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission’s (DERC) recommendation on limiting electricity subsidies in the city to the Council of Ministers. He added that he would make a decision on the matter within 15 days.

The LT Governor ordered the Delhi government to consider “limiting” electricity subsidies to the “poor and needy consumers” based on a legal recommendation from the DERC. However, the consultation was suspended.

In response to the directive, the Delhi government said the LG had again violated the Constitution and Supreme Court guidelines by “illegally” expanding its jurisdiction.

The report, which forms the basis of the LG policy, was prepared by Kumar while he was dealing with the complaint about power discos’ unpaid fees to power generation companies and was presented to LG and Prime Minister Arvind Kejriwal in December 2022, officials said.

The chief secretary said in his report that the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) advised the Delhi government in October 2020 to only extend the electricity subsidy to consumers with a sanctioned load of either up to 3kW or up to 5kW, as they are almost will cover 95 per cent of total domestic consumers and save the government up to Rs 316 crore.

The DERC had suggested that consumers with a fixed load above 5kW were not necessarily “poor” and should not benefit from the subsidy.

When the advice was presented by the Energy Department to the Minister concerned in November 2020, he directed it to be presented to Cabinet next year.

Also read: Electricity crisis in summer: This is how the Ministry of Energy is planning to ensure an adequate supply

According to the chief secretary’s report, the Energy Department resubmitted a note to then-Energy Minister Satyendra Jain on April 13, 2021, but it was rejected in favor of the existing scheme.

The minister said the electricity subsidy decided by the cabinet – 100 percent waiver on monthly consumption of up to 200 units and 50 percent discount on consumption of 201 to 400 units – will continue, according to the report.

As the matter involved financial implications of between Rs 200 crore to Rs 316 crore annually, the competent authority to decide the matter was the Cabinet, the Secretary-General said in his report.

When the matter came to light, the Department of Energy again began drafting the proposal to the Cabinet to keep consumers with a sanctioned output of more than 3KW out of the subsidy grid.

The Secretary-General’s report indicated that not only had the Department of Energy failed to submit the DERC’s statutory advice to the LG for consideration, it had not even been submitted to Cabinet for consideration.

According to the report, the approval of the finance department was not obtained before the existing subsidy program was continued.

The Chief Secretary also referred the matter to the Legal Department, who agreed that the matter should have been brought to Cabinet and the LG and that there was a material departure from the Rules of Procedure.

It added that the Chief Secretary should invoke Rule 57 of the Transaction of Business Rules (ToBR) and bring it personally to the attention of the Minister responsible, the Chief Minister and the LG.

Based on the report, the LG has also asked the Chief Secretary to brief the Chief Minister on the alleged breaches of the then-Energy Secretary’s Rules of Procedure and urge him to instruct his cabinet members to scrupulously comply with their provisions.

Also read: NTPC reports nearly 12% growth in power generation from April to February of this fiscal year

“The existing policy on granting electricity subsidies has been decided by the Council of Ministers – the Minister has no power to take a decision on a matter falling within the competence of the Council of Ministers under the ToBR,” the LG said in its note.

“The Prime Minister may be informed by the then Hon’ble Minister (Power) of the above failings of the ToBR and requested to direct all responsible Ministers of all departments of the GNCTD to scrupulously follow the provisions of the transaction of business of the GNCTD Rules,” added he added.

In response to the development, the government said LG had illegally interfered in its affairs by intervening in the matter.

“The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court has ruled unequivocally that the LG has not been given decision-making authority over delegated issues, including electricity. Yet he has subverted all rule of law by urging the Delhi government to withdraw electricity subsidies.

“CM Arvind Kejriwal will not allow that. The LG should stop behaving like a BJP political candidate and let the elected government do its job,” it said in a statement.

(With PTI inputs)

https://www.zeebiz.com/india/news-free-electricity-scheme-in-delhi-to-end-lg-gives-kejriwal-govt-15-days-to-take-decision-225375 End of Free Electricity Scheme in Delhi? LG is giving the Kejriwal government 15 days to make a decision

Russell Falcon

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