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New Delhi, Aug. 26

THE Parliamentary Standing Committee on Energy has asked the Union Government to exclude Delhi's private power distribution companies from access to cheap funds under Central schemes citing less than satisfactory use of the money. This comes in the wake of rising public protests against this year's 10 per cent tariff hike and lacklustre performance by the firms in tackling the technical and commercial losses in the Capital.

"The Committee is surprised to note that these private distribution companies (discoms) have neither shown any tangible results even after using cheaper Government funds under the Accelerated Power Development and Reforms Programme (APDRP), nor these private players have passed on any benefit to consumers," the Committee has said in its report. The two Reliance Energy subsidiary companies BSES Rajdhani and BSES Yamuna and the Tata Power-controlled NDPL have said they have used APDRP fund of 105.51 crore to strengthen their power distribution system. "But the results are not at all impressive," the Committee has noted.

Taking serious note of incidents of "fast running" meters installed by private discoms in the city, the panel said, "If similar trends continue in future and private discoms are not able to produce the desired results after using cheap APDRP funds, the Government should seriously consider to exclude them from providing financial assistance under APDRP." The committee has suggested that since the Government gave funds under APDRP, it was the Centre's duty to ensure that these were properly utilised and benefits reached the end consumer.

The report of the Parliamentary Standing Committee has come down strongly on the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission's (DERC) decision to raise electricity rates. "It is learnt DERC has sanctioned tariff hikes to BSES and Tatas without Tatas (NDPL) asking for the same, as they were able to manage at the same rates. This is indeed surprising, as consumers under Tatas are sufferers for no reason Government must intervene and restrain power of DERC and investigate the same in Delhi and State Electricity Regulatory Commissions (SERCs) elsewhere," the panel headed by Mr Gurudas Kamat said.

The Committee also took a serious view on the issue of replacement of meters in Delhi, saying: "Discoms have replaced the earlier consumer meters with fast running meters and are regularly hiking the tariffs thus increasing the woes of the consumers."

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated August 27, 2005)
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