MESCOM proposal on power tariff hike opposed


While Mangalore Electricity Supply Company Ltd. (MESCOM) has proposed a hike in power tariff by an average of ₹1.67 per unit, consumers, elected representatives, and representatives of farmers and industry bodies on Friday asked the Karnataka Electricity Regulatory Commission (KERC) to retain or reduce the present tariff as people were yet to recover from the impacts of COVID-19.

During a public hearing on power tariff revision by the KERC, chaired by its chairman Shambu Dayal Meena, MESCOM MD Prashant Kumar Mishra said the annual revenue requirement of MESCOM for 2021-22 has been estimated at ₹5,119.61 crore, which includes ₹3,513.24 crore towards power purchase and ₹779.59 crore for operation and maintenance. With revenue from charges (earnings) estimated to be ₹4,176.35 crore, there will be a shortfall of ₹943.26 crore. To bridge this revenue gap, MESCOM has proposed an average hike of ₹1.67 per unit, he said. Apart from taking up works to supply quality power, MESCOM is taking steps for the recovery of outstanding amounts from the State government and other agencies, he said.

Objecting to the proposed hike, Sathyanaranaya Udupa from the Udupi district unit of Bharatiya Kisan Sangh said that if MESCOM was really concerned about consumers, it would not have proposed any hike in power tariff. “The present tariff came into effect four months ago. MESCOM has declared a profit of ₹43 crore. It should not have sought a rise in tariff during this COVID-19 situation,” he said. He also said MESCOM should take steps for the recovery of the outstanding amount of ₹1,009 crore from the government and lessen the power tariff burden on consumers.

MLA for Thirthahalli Araga Jnanendra said that people do not have high hopes of MESCOM, especially in areas such as Sagar, Thirthahalli, and Hosanagar, where power supply is available for barely four hours a day. He said MESCOM had failed to make use of the funds available under the Centre’s en Dayal Upadhyaya Gram Jyoti Yojana for rural electrification.

Srinivas S. Kamath and B.A. Nazeer, from the Kanara Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the neighbouring State of Kerala had retained the tariff of 2018-19 and had not increased it for 2019-20 in light of COVID-19. The power tariff for industries in Kerala is ₹5.75 per unit, as against ₹7.45 in Karnataka. “This steep rate is leading to the closure of many small-scale industries,” Mr. Kamath said.

Asking MESCOM to take steps to further improve the complaint redressal system, Mr. Meena directed Mr. Mishra to take up, on a pilot basis, the metering of irrigation pumpsets in a substation area and access the power consumed. Mr. Meena said KERC was randomly looking at the quality of works of KPTCL and other ESCOMS. He reprimanded an officer overlooking the finances of MESCOM for giving a false picture to the MESCOM MD.

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