New Delhi: Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit sparked off a controversy on Sunday after she advised people to cut down their consumption if they could not afford hiked electricity charges. Dikshit said if people want 24-hour power supply, they will have to pay for it. The Bharatiya Janata Janata party was quick to criticise her for the statement as VK Malhotra questioned if the government wanted people to stop consuming water and electricity.
"To tell people to use less electricity is highly objectionable. People using electircity for 10-15 hours were paying Rs 1000 earlier and now they pay Rs 7000 for the same consumption. Still she is asking them to use less electricity. Should we stop using electricity and water?" he asked.
Under attack for the hike in power tariff, Dikshit sought to justify it, saying the increase in cost of power production has led to the rise in electricity rates. Stating that the consumers will have to pay if they want round-the-clock electricity supply, Dikshit went on to say that if people are finding it difficult to pay the billed amount they they should cut down consumption on various electrical appliances. "We have been supplying power round-the-clock. We are not
supplying power periodically. When 24 hours supply is ensured then the Opposition says bill is too high. If you consume electricity for 24 hours, then you do not pay for five hours' consumption.
"If you cannot afford the electricity bill then cut down your consumption of electricity. Future generations will never realise there used to be seven to eight hours power cut in Delhi," Dikshit said addressing a meeting at Chhatarpur area
in south Delhi. "If somebody is finding it difficult to pay the bill then he can use a fan instead of a cooler. One can always cut down consumption of power to limit the bill," she added.
Delhi BJP president Vijay Goel accused the Chief Minister of "favouring" discoms and ignoring the alleged corruption in
these power distribution companies. "She (Dikshit) is favouring discoms. There is mass corruption in electricity by the discoms but Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit, instead of checking it, is giving statement about electricity being used by poor people," Goel said. The BJP has been targeting the city government on the issue of hike in power tariff and accused it of siding with the private power discoms.
"This is very unfortunate statement from the Chief Minister of Delhi. In Delhi, the electricity prices are not increasing because of increased production cost," Aam Aadmi Party convenor Arvind Kejriwal said. "How can you expect the people to stop using TV, refrigerator, washing machines which have become essential today. The electricity prices are increasing only because of the corruption of the Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit in collusion with electricity companies...."
The power tariff in the city was hiked by 22 per cent in 2011 and again it was increased by 26 per cent for domestic consumers in July last year. It was again hiked by up to three per cent from February 1.
(With additional information from PTI)