Delhi assembly speaker Ram Niwas Goel told the assembly’s standing committee on public facilities on Friday that officials were allegedly trying to stop the Delhi government’s electricity subsidy scheme.
Power minister Atishi claimed that chief secretary Naresh Kumar and power secretary Shurbir Singh were conspiring with the lieutenant governor (LG) to halt the government’s free electricity scheme, which provides up to 200 units of electricity to consumers for free each month.
“An important file from the LG’s office on power subsidy was supposed to be given to the cabinet within 15 days (starting March 10), but the file has yet to reach the cabinet despite a 14-day delay. Instead of reaching the chief minister and the power minister, the relevant file has been circulated in the offices of the chief secretary and the power secretary for 14 days. What are the officials attempting to conceal?” Atishi said in the assembly.
She added that she has repeatedly questioned the chief secretary and the power secretary about this matter. “The question is why this file has not yet reached the minister, but no response has been received. This is a serious issue affecting the people of Delhi. On March 10, this file was sent by the LG to the chief secretary,” Atishi said, holding up a photocopy of the file, which she said she obtained after much difficulty.
Domestic consumers who use up to 200 units of electricity have their bills waived under the state’s power subsidy scheme, while those who use 201-400 units receive a 50% subsidy.
The AAP government and the LG got into a fight over power subsidies a few days after the LG asked chief secretary Naresh Kumar to tell the power department to take the statutory advice of the Delhi Electricity Regulatory Commission (DERC) to the council of ministers and make a decision within 15 days. According to the DERC report, capping the power subsidy based on a 1-3Kv or 1-5Kv load factor would have covered nearly 95% of total subsidy recipients. It could have saved the exchequer ₹316 crore or ₹200 crore per year, respectively.
The AAP government has described it as an attempt to end the power subsidy. The standing committee on public facilities has been tasked with investigating the situation.
Despite repeated attempts, the LG office did not respond to requests for comment. When asked for comments, Naresh Kumar and Shurbir Singh did not answer.
According to opposition leader Ramvir Singh Bidhuri, AAP’s leaders often lie, say things that don’t make sense, and then apologise. “It is a baseless accusation that the LG is attempting to halt power subsidies. Although free electricity is provided in Delhi, consumers who pay for it must purchase domestic electricity at ₹8.50 and commercial electricity at ₹13 to ₹18 per unit, which is the highest in the country,” Bidhuri said.